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Watchdog Finds No Progress In Armenian Anti-Corruption Drive


Armenia - Varuzhan Hoktanian, head of the Armenian branch of Transparency International.

Armenia - Varuzhan Hoktanian, head of the Armenian branch of Transparency International.

The scale and gravity of government corruption in Armenia has remained essentially unchanged in the past year, Transparency International said in an annual global survey released on Wednesday.

Armenia ranked 95th out of 168 countries that were evaluated in the 2015 Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) drawn up by the Berlin-based watchdog.Transparency International assigned it an aggregate score of 35 on scale from zero to 100 points. The maximum score indicates a perceived absence of corruption in a country.

Armenia scored 37 and was 94th in the 2014 CPI that covered 174 countries and territories.

Varuzhan Hoktanian of the Anti-Corruption Center (ACC), Transparency International’s Armenian affiliate, portrayed the latest rankings as further proof of a lack of progress in the Armenian government’s declared efforts to combat graft.

The government vowed to step up those efforts in July when Prime Minister Hovik Abrahamian chaired the first meeting of his newly formed anti-graft council. The council approved a plan of mostly legislative actions meant to complicate corrupt practices among officials dealing with healthcare, education, tax collection and law enforcement.

The ACC and other Armenian civic groups are very skeptical about the seriousness of the government pledges.

Hoktanian argued that Abrahamian’s predecessors had also set up and headed anti-corruption councils. “Its structure is slightly different, but as life has demonstrated, one should not have serious expectations from this council,” he told a news conference. “The council can be effective only if they implement profound reforms, rather than imitate them.”

Hoktanian insisted that the Armenian authorities still lack the political will to tackle corruption in earnest. “If they have a political will they will take a number of concrete steps,” he said. “The first step must be putting an end to the political and economic monopolies in the country. Monopolies always go hand in hand with corruption.”

“Economic monopolization leads to political monopolization,” he added, alluding to the fact that some lucrative sectors of the Armenian economy have long been controlled by government-linked individuals.

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