Hopes Still Alive for Armenia Anti corruption Body

"CORRUPTION IN ARMENIA HAS REACHED A POINT WHERE IT THREATENS OUR NATIONAL SECURITY," SAYS ANTI-CORRUPTION ADVISOR YESAIAN.

YEREVAN (RFE/RL–Yerkir)–The establishment of an anti-corruption body is still being considered said President Kocharian’s advisor on anti-corruption Bagrat Yesaian–when asked at a Thursday news conference to comment on the government coalition’s decision to not form such a body.

"No final decision was made in the coalition’s council meeting," Yesaian said–denying parliament speaker Artur Baghdasarian’s claims that Armenia’s three-party governing coalition has decided against the creation of the body–which is sought by the Armenian Revolutionary Federation (ARF)–a coalition member. Baghdasarian was quoted in newspapers as saying that the decision was made at the last meeting of the coalition’s coordinating council.

Yesaian told reporters that the existence of such a body could be indispensable after the publication of the government’s promised anti-corruption strategy–expected out by year’s end. He argued that somebody will have to coordinate and oversee the plan’s implementation.

The fight against corruption was ARF’s central theme during its election campaign for the May parliamentary elections–and the organization’s subsequent participation in the coalition government.

"Corruption in Armenia has reached a point where it threatens our national security," ARF member Yesaian warned. But he added that the situation is not as grave as it is often presented inside and outside Armenia–pointing to the latest Global Corruption Report 2003 by the anti-corruption watchdog group Transparency International.

The survey indicates a drop in the scale of government corruption in Armenia which stands at 78 out of the 133 countries surveyed by Transparency’s Corruption Perception Index. By sharp contrast–neighboring Georgia and Azerbaijan came in at 124.

Yesaian said his main task is to identify the main sources of corrupt practices in Armenia and suggest concrete policy solutions to Kocharian.

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