Armenia to Present Anti Corruption Plan Next Week

YEREVAN (RFE/RL)–The Armenian government will adopt and unveil next week its long-awaited plan to combat rampant corruption–Prime Minister Antranig Markarian announced on Friday.

The announcement followed a meeting of the government’s anti-corruption task force that approved the final version of the document amended in recent weeks at the insistence of the government’s coalition partners–notably the Armenian Revolutionary Federation (ARF). The body will discuss the plan at the next cabinet meeting on Thursday and forward it to Western diplomatic missions and lending agencies that have long been pressing Yerevan to tackle the grave problem in earnest.

Speaking about ARF’s input–spokesman Gegham Manukian said "We have made numerous proposals and a large part has been accepted."

The opposition–meanwhile–is highly skeptical about the seriousness of government promises of improved governance.

The authorities may counter such allegations by citing the findings of the latest global survey conducted by Transparency International–the Berlin-based anti-graft watchdog. Its 2003 Corruption Perception Index–released earlier this month–rated Armenia among the least corrupt former Soviet republics. Armenia placed 78th in Transparency’s rankings of 133 countries–much higher than neighboring Georgia and Azerbaijan that share 124th place.

All nations surveyed were evaluated on a 10-point scale where 10.0 is the highest score–indicating the absence of graft among politicians and public officials. Armenia’scored 3.0–up from 2.5 points it received in 2000. Transparency’s Armenian representatives downplay the positive shift–though–arguing that Armenia’still lags far behind the Western and even some Eastern European countries.

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