Armenia’s new government will set up a new and powerful state body in an effort to fulfill its pledges to eradicate endemic corruption in the country, Justice Minister Artak Zeynalian said on Friday.
Zeynalian said Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian’s cabinet will be more “resolute” than the previous Armenian governments in combatting bribery, cronyism and other corrupt practices.
“The government is planning to create soon an anti-corruption body equipped with necessary legal guarantees and instruments,” he told a news conference. “That body will be empowered to take preventive, operational-investigative and educational measures. I want to stress that everything will be done to ensure its complete independence.”
Zeynalian gave no further details, saying that the Justice Ministry is still working on a legal “concept” for the anti-graft body. Armenian civic organizations will also be involved in the effort, he said.
Pashinian promised, among other things, to “root out” corruption when he was elected prime minister by the parliament on May 8 after weeks of massive street protests led by him. He had for years accused the previous government of not tackling the problem in earnest.
Armenia has until now had two anti-corruption bodies. One of them has advised the prime minister while the other has processed mandatory income and asset declarations from the country’s 600 most high-ranking state officials. Serzh Sarkisian’s government was due to give the latter body more powers last month.
Sarkisian declared in November that combatting corruption has become “a matter of national security.” His administration’s declared anti-graft efforts were for years dismissed as a gimmick by opposition politicians and civil society members.
Armenia ranked, together with Macedonia, Ethiopia and Vietnam, only 107th out of 180 countries and territories evaluated in Transparency International’s 2017 Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) released in February.