Prime Minister Karapetian has called for the spread of a “European” political and business culture in Armenia and reaffirmed his newly formed cabinet’s pledges to combat corruption and embark on sweeping economic reforms.
Karapetian met with the head of the EU Delegation in Armenia, Piotr Switalski, and the Yerevan-based ambassadors of EU member states late last week to discuss his ambitious reform agenda that has met with skepticism from the Armenian opposition.
“The Prime Minister stressed the need to … inculcate European culture and practices in our country in the fields of business management, fight against corruption, protection of human rights and judicial reform,” read a statement on the meeting released by his press office.
Karapetian told the European diplomats that he sees “no other way to develop the country but to combat corruption and the shadow economy in all directions.”
“In this regard, the Premier advised that the Government of Armenia will come up with specific legislative initiatives aimed at fighting against corruption. The composition of the [government’s] Anti-Corruption Council will be changed to involve civil society representatives,” added the statement.
Karapetian, who worked and lived in Russia for almost five years preceding his appointment as prime minister in September, was also reported to say that his government’s key goal is to create a level playing field for all entrepreneurs doing business in Armenia.
His cabinet’s policy program, approved by parliament last month, similarly pledges to help speed up economic growth through a tougher fight against corruption, better tax administration and “equal conditions” for all businesses. It commits the government to improving Armenia’s business environment in a way that will be recognized next year in annual survey conducted by the World Bank.
Opposition lawmakers dismissed these reform pledges as a publicity stunt during a heated parliamentary debate on the 33-page program. They said that the government reshuffle is only aimed at mitigating public discontent with President Serzh Sarkisian’s administration ahead of the April 2017 parliamentary elections.
According to the government statement, Switalski praised the declared objectives of Karapetian’s cabinet. “The Ambassador [Switalski] stressed that, as Armenia’s partner, the European Union is prepared to help develop our country’s economy through a better business environment, tax and customs administration,” it said.
Switalski said earlier that Armenia needs “deep and comprehensive” reforms and expressed the EU’s readiness to assist in their implementation.