The Armenian authorities are still doing little to tackle endemic government corruption, the Armenian branch of the anti-graft group Transparency International said on Thursday.
The Yerevan-based Anti-Corruption Center (ACC) drew this conclusion in a report assessing the authorities’ anti-corruption commitments to the European Union (EU).
Similar reports have also been prepared by the Transparency International chapters in neighboring Azerbaijan and Georgia ahead of the EU’s annual reviews of the three South Caucasus states included in its European Neighborhood (ENP) policy program. They are also critical of the Azerbaijani and Georgian governments.
The ACC report notes only little change in Armenia throughout 2010, particularly in the areas concerning judicial reform and civil service administration. It says the authorities have only made some progress in implementing Council of Europe recommendations on the matter.
“The measures taken in 2010 are too few for us to be able to say that Armenia has made substantial progress in the fight against corruption,” Sona Ayvazian, the ACC chairwoman, told RFE/RL’s Armenian service.
“We don’t see a significant display of the political will and don’t see signs that state bodies are really fighting against corruption to honor not only their obligations to international structures but also implement the [new] anti-corruption strategy adopted by the Armenian government,” said Ayvazian.
The Armenian government and its Judicial Department declined to comment on the ACC report. A separate state body overseeing the Armenian civil service said it will comment after looking into the report.
President Serzh Sarkisian and Prime Minister Tigran Sarkisian (no relation) have pledged to crack down on graft throughout their three-year tenures. Last year, President Sarkisian stressed the importance of prosecuting state officials suspected of embezzling public funds and engaging in other corrupt practices.
Armenia ranked 123rd out of 178 countries surveyed in Transparency International’s 2010 Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI), down from 99th place it held in 2007. An opinion poll commissioned by the Berlin-based watchdog and conducted by Gallup last summer found that only 15 percent of Armenians feel that corruption in their country has decreased since 2007.
“These new reports show that not enough is being done,” Jana Mittermaier, head of Transparency International’s liaison office to the EU, said in a statement. “Countries in the region should move quickly to strengthen anti-corruption policies and good governance.”