By Astghik Bedevian
An international anti-corruption watchdog has ranked Armenia 93rd among 163 nations by its level of corruption, which is neither progress nor regress against last year’s study results.
In the rankings released on Monday Transparency International cited its annual Corruption Perceptions Index study in which Armenia has the index score of 2.9 along with Argentina, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Eritrea, Syria and Tanzania.
The index score relates to perceptions of the degree of corruption as seen by business people and country analysts and ranges between zero, which is highly corrupt, and 10, which is very clean.
Amalia Kostanian, head of the Armenian branch of Transparency International, says the findings reflect only the opinions of entrepreneurs and experts.
“Our studies evaluating public opinion depict a grimmer picture. We have received much more negative data and will publish it soon,” she told RFE/RL.
Kostanian describes the work of the anti-corruption commission in 2006 as ineffective and says that it met only once in the last ten months.
“Even though Armenia passed several related laws, acceded to different conventions and has several anti-corruption structures, the fight against corruption still remains an imitation and bears a formal nature in the country,” Kostanian charged.
“Not a single senior official has been punished for corruption practices and, more importantly, authorities do not bear any responsibility for their failure in the anti-corruption struggle before elections.”
Transparency International has found that corruption looms large among political parties and registered an early start of election campaigns, some six months ahead of its official kickoff.
About a dozen countries, including the United States, have registered a decline according to their corruption index.
Armenia’s neighbor Turkey, for example, registered an improvement, like Latvia and Turkmenistan from among former Soviet republics.
Only Moldova is ahead of Armenia among CIS countries. All other CIS countries, according to the study, have a higher level of corruption, with Uzbekistan having the worst record (151st).
According to Transparency International, the highest level of corruption is in Haiti (index score 1.8) and the lowest is in Finland, Iceland and New Zealand (9.6).