The extent of government corruption in Armenia has practically not changed and remained quite high over the past year, according to an annual global survey released by Transparency International on Wednesday.
Armenia ranked, along with four African states, 94th of 174 countries and territories evaluated in the Berlin-based watchdog’s latest Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI). It occupied the same position in last year’s CPI which covered 177 nations.
The nations surveyed were again rated on a 100 point scale measuring the degree of good governance as perceived by businesspeople and experts. Armenia received a CPI score of 37, slightly up from 36 in 2013 and 34 in 2012.
“A score of less than 50 points means that corruption has a serious negative impact on a country’s development,” Varuzhan Hoktanian, the executive director of Transparency International’s Armenian branch, said as he presented the survey’s findings.
“If we look at the ex-Soviet space, we still lag behind the Baltic states and Georgia but are in a better shape than all other ex-Soviet states, including Ukraine, Moldova and especially the Eurasian Union’s member states,” he told a news conference.
Georgia is 50th in the latest rankings, ahead of not only neighboring Armenia and Azerbaijan (126th) but also Turkey (64th).
President Serzh Sarkisian has pledged to combat bribery and other corrupt practices throughout his more than 6-year rule. His administration has repeatedly announced, most recently in 2012, crackdowns on widespread graft.
The Transparency International branch in Armenia, the Anti-Corruption Center (ACC), has been highly skeptical about these pledges. Hoktanian insisted on Wednesday that the Armenian authorities still lack “the political will” to tackle the problem in earnest. He also pointed to their continuing close ties with business and a handful of government-linked “oligarchs” in particular.
“Big oligarchic factions are dictating state policies,” claimed Hoktanian. “Laws and regulations are enacted and implemented in their favor.”