90% of Armenia’s See Corruption as ‘Major Problem’

YEREVAN (Armenpress)–A new survey results released Wednesday by the Armenia branch of the German-based Transparency International revealed that 90 percent of the Armenian population see corruption in government and the social service sector as a "major problem" in Armenia, while a similar percent believe that free and fair elections would be the solution to that problem. The results of the 2006 survey, which was conducted with the support of the UNDP Armenia office, indicated that the citizens of Armenia were still very concerned about corruption with 40 percent of the respondents considered corruption as a crime and 11.81 percent as "immoral behavior." Some 67.7 percent of respondents said that corruption had always existed in Armenia, up five times from a similar survey in 2002, which registered a mere 14 percent to that same question. The majority of participants–64 percent–believed that the level of corruption has increased during the last three years. The poll also revealed that nearly 70 percent of respondents were unaware of an anti-corruption strategy designed by the government to crackdown on this crime, 85 percent had no idea that there was a prime minister-affiliated anti-corruption council and 92 percent did not know that a council-affiliated corruption monitoring commission existed. Most people both in 2002 and 2006 stated that bribery and abuse of public office for personal gain were the main manifestations of corruption. They still believe that state authorities mainly initiated corruption and that more corruption occurred in higher levels of the Armenian government system. However, the responses concerning the most corrupt institutions or structures had changed since 2002. While the prosecution system was mentioned again in 2006, the Prime Minister’s Office and the courts that were singled out in 2002 were replaced by the Prime Minister’s office and ministers in 2006. Around 69 percent of the respondents found the traffic police were still very corrupt. The majority of those polled selected the electoral system (73.9 percent) and the tax service (63.3 percent) as the most corrupt, while in 2002 the military and the health sector were given similar marks. The 2006 survey revealed new sectors to which unofficial paymen’s were made, as reported by respondents. They included the State Registrar, the Office of Court Decision Enforcement, foreign embassies, environment-related services, condominiums, as well as the Register of Civil Acts, in addition to healthcare, education, traffic police, tax, customs, military, local self-government bodies, notary offices, which were also mentioned in 2002. While the majority of the 2002 respondents thought that the main causes of corruption was poor law enforcement, imperfect legislation and inefficient control and enforcement mechanisms, in 2006 an increased number of people polled saw public acceptance as one of the major causes of corruption in Armenia. While prioritizing the solutions to improve the current situation, 89.0 percent of the respondents pointed to a necessity of ensuring free and fair elections. They also referred to strengthening law enforcement (93.9 percent) and punishment of those involved in corruption (91.9 percent) as a key to the success of reducing corruption in the country. Both in 2002 and 2006, the majority of respondents continued to believe that the President of the country could play a determining role in reducing corruption in Armenia. More than half of the respondents believed that people themselves cannot do anything. In 2006, 39.0 percent of the respondents said they could not justify corruption at all. In 2006, 50.7 percent of respondents answered that they would not take bribes since it is unacceptable for them, whereas in 2002 only 17 percent of the respondents were of the same opinion. The above data was presented Wednesday at a presentation of "2006 Corruption Perception Survey in Armenia" publication, which took place in the Congress Hotel. The survey results were presented by the Chairwoman of the CRD/TI Armenia Amalya Kostanyan. The event brought together public figures, representatives of NGOs and international organizations, as well as mass media. Consuelo Vidal, UN Resident Coordinator and UNDP Resident Representative, Ambassador Vladimir Pryakhin, Head of OSCE Office in Armenia, Bojana Urumova, Special Representative of Secretary General of Council of Europe to Armenia, and Anna Aghadjanian, Head of the Human Rights Division of the International Organizations’ Department, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Armenia were key speakers of the event.

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