A leading international watchdog this week reported a further slight increase in government corruption in Armenia, ranking it among the 55 or so most corrupt countries of the world covered by its annual surveys.
Armenia as well as Eritrea, Madagascar and Niger share a lowly 123rd place in Transparency International’s latest Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) of 178 nations. Armenia was 120th in the previous CPI released by the Berlin-based group a year ago.
The 2010 survey assigned Armenia a score of 2.6 measured on a 10-point scale, with zero indicating an extremely high degree of corruption as perceived by entrepreneurs and experts. The South Caucasus state scored 2.7 points in 2009.
Varuzhan Hoktanian, the head of Transparency International’s Armenian affiliate, says Armenia is showing a slow regression.
“And this concerns both administrative and political corruption,” he says. “In fact, we cannot register it as a deviation. We certainly can’t say there is progress, it is ruled out. Simply, over years, we can say that there is a stagnant situation with a downward tendency.”
According to Hoktanian, whenever a country gets a CPI score lower than 3 it is believed that this country has a ‘systemic corruption’.
Vahagn Khachatrian, a member of the commission on economic affairs of the opposition Armenian National Congress, believes that “all spheres in Armenia are corrupt.” He further claims that anti-corruption measures in Armenia yield no results.
“These measures are being taken by people who are themselves bogged down in corruption,” Khachatrian told RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun) on Tuesday.
The Armenian government, meanwhile, says that it has stepped up its declared fight against graft in recent years, adopting various anti-graft programs and forming special bodies tasked with their implementation.
The Armenian president’s aide Gevorg Kostanian believes that anti-corruption steps in Armenia in 2009-2010 were of a “more modernized nature”.
Kostanian, who heads a commission monitoring the implementation of anti-corruption strategy in Armenia, says that organizations conducting surveys use their own methodologies of measuring and that “such indexes can only be taken note of.”
Meanwhile, in the Transparency rankings for 2010, Armenia continues to compare favorably, in terms of corruption perceptions, with two of its neighbors, Azerbaijan and Iran, which are 134th and 146th, respectively. However, the two other neighbors, Turkey and Georgia, are well ahead of it, ranking 56th and 68th in the closely watched survey.
Denmark, New Zealand and Singapore are regarded as the least corrupt countries according to the CPI 2010 results, while Somalia is perceived as the most corrupt.