U.S. Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch presented the Embassy’s annual Woman of Courage Award at a ceremony attended by Armenian government officials and civil society members. She paid tribute to Kostanian’s “persistence and dedication to Armenia's development and democratization which exemplified honor and patriotism of the highest order.”
“Her life’s purpose was to inspire in each one of us the responsibility to tackle corruption and the hope that we could make a difference,” Yovanovitch said.
Kostanian, 50, was the founding chairwoman of the Anti-Corruption Center (ACC), the Armenian affiliate of the Berlin-based Transparency International that has earned domestic and international acclaim for its efforts to expose and fight against government corruption.
Kostanian was a vocal critic of bribery, nepotism and other corrupt practices that remain widespread in Armenia. She and other ACC activists repeatedly questioned successive Armenian governments’ state efforts to tackle the problem.
The administration of former President Robert Kocharian launched in 2003 a four-year anti-corruption program mainly involving legislative measures. Kostanian served as a member of a presidential commission monitoring its implementation. She resigned from the body in 2007 in protest against what she saw as its inactivity and a lack of government commitment to combat graft in earnest.