Ministers Promote Promised Anti corruption Plan

YEREVAN (RFE/RL)–The Armenian government officially presented on Friday its long-awaited plan to combat endemic corruption among various-level state officials and public sector employees; the plan was adopted last November after repeated delays. The presentation was timed to coincide with a seminar on anti-corruption issues attended by government representatives–law-enforcement officials as well as representatives of local civic groups and international organizations. The lengthy document published in a state-run newspaper on December 10 calls for a broad range of administrative and legislative measures to reduce the scale of corrupt practices. It deals with specific sectors such as law-enforcement–civil service–and government regulation of the economy. Its authors say that graft can be tackled by making the government more transparent and rooting out bureaucratic red tape. Work on the strategy began in late 2001 and was funded from a $345,000 grant provided by the World Bank. The bank and the International Monetary Fund have endorsed its content–disbursing additional loans to Yerevan late last year. Addressing the seminar–Foreign Minister Vartan Oskanian announced that Armenia has formally joined the Council of Europe’s Group of States Against Corruption (GRECO) that puts its members under closer international scrutiny. The cooperation mechanism envisages mutual evaluation of GRECO countries’ international anti-corruption commitmen’s. "If someone is asked to give a bribe–he must refuse–while being well aware that the law will be on his side. And the individual who deman’s a bribe must know that he will be punished for that," stressed Oskanian

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