A leading international watchdog on Thursday reported no progress in Armenia’s curbing its government corruption, ranking it among the 70 or so most corrupt countries of the world covered by its annual surveys.
Armenia as well as the Dominican Republic, Honduras, the Philippines and Syria share a lowly 129th place in Transparency International’s latest Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) for 183 nations. Armenia shared the 123rd place with three other states among 178 nations in the previous CPI released by the Berlin-based group a year ago.
The 2011 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 thus repeated its score of 2010. Countries that score below 3 are believed to have ‘systemic corruption’, meaning that corruption is a precondition for the functioning of the state system.
Varuzhan Hoktanian, the executive director of Transparency International’s Armenian affiliate, says the most painful aspect of Armenia’s reality is corruption in electoral processes.
“Unfortunately, we see very high levels of political corruption in all elections. First of all, it is abuse of administrative resources, voting buying, etc.,” says Hoktanian. He adds that systemic corruption will persist in Armenia as long as normal elections are not held.
Georgia is the only former Soviet country to have made progress according to the latest CPI scoring. Armenia’s neighbor shares the 64th spot with South Africa and has a score of 4.1.
Azerbaijan, the other post-Soviet neighbor of Armenia, has a score of 2.4 and shares the 143rd-151st positions with such countries as Russia, Belarus, Nigeria, Togo, Rwanda and some others.
New Zealand, Denmark and Finland are regarded as the least corrupt countries according to the CPI 2011 results, while Somalia is perceived as the most corrupt.
“Armenia’s index will not improve either by the government’s decisions or legislative reforms. It improves when there is sufficient political will. If the people decide that enough is enough, that it should no longer be like this, – and we see such changes in neighboring Georgia, – then there will be progress [in terms of perceived corruption],” says the TI Armenian center’s head.