Armenia Ranked Among World’s Most Corrupt Countries

sarkisian-nairit

YEREVAN (RFE/RL)–A respected international watchdog reported on Tuesday a further slight increase in government corruption in Armenia, ranking it among the 60 most corrupt countries of the world covered by its annual surveys.

Armenia as well as Bolivia, Ethiopia, Kazakhstan Mongolia and Vietnam share a lowly 120th place in Transparency International’s latest Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) of 180 nations. It was 109th in the previous CPI released by the Berlin-based group a year ago.

The 2009 survey assigned Armenia a score of 2.7 measured on a 10-point scale, with zero indicating an extremely high degree of corruption as perceived by entrepreneurs and experts. The South Caucasus state scored 2.9 points in 2008.

“I must point out that as a rule, a change of up to 0.3 points is not deemed significant within the framework of this study,” said Amalia Kostanian, chairwoman of Transparency’s Armenian affiliate, the Anti-Corruption Center (ACC).

Still, Kostanian stressed the fact that the watchdog has found no decreases in the scale of widespread bribery and other corrupt practices in the country for the past decade. “In fact, we have been stagnating since 2003,” she said, presenting the findings of the latest CPI at a news conference.

The Armenian authorities claim to have stepped up their declared fight against graft in recent years, adopting various anti-graft programs and forming special bodies tasked with their implementation. The administration of former President Robert Kocharian launched in 2003 the first such program consisting of mainly legislative measures. There is little evidence that it has strengthened the rule of law in the country, however.

Kocharian’s successor and longtime close associate, Serzh Sarkisian, admitted last year that the virtual absence of prosecutions of corrupt government officials has undermined public trust in the stated crackdowns on corruption. His prime minister, Tigran Sargsyan, has been even more vocal in acknowledging the seriousness of the problem.

The ACC and other local civic groups believe that the situation has barely improved under the Sarkisian administration. Kostanian stated in September that anti-corruption drives periodically announced by the government will be doomed to failure as long as Armenia’s top government officials are allowed to have extensive business interests and strangle entrepreneurs challenging them. She described the “fusion between large entrepreneurs and politicians” as the root cause of the problem.

Armenia continues to compare favorably, in terms of corruption perceptions, with two of its neighbors, Azerbaijan and Iran, that are 143rd and 168th respectively in the Transparency rankings. However, the two other neighbors, Turkey and Georgia, are well ahead of it, ranking 61st and 66th in the closely watched survey.

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18 Comments

  1. Samvel Jeshmaridian, PhD said:

    The heart of this government is corrupt. Hands are secondary.

  2. Haro said:

    Samvel is right. The government is corrupt, and this government is delibrately corrupting the nation via looting and media (look at the serials and the news and you will get the point).
    Also, specifications for this government’s corruption methodology are outlined and provided by Europe, NATO, USA and Russia. It’s called “Globalization”.

  3. Gary Bedian said:

    As a businessman who has been involved in doing business in Armenia for 20 years, it is very sad for me to see articles like this surface as it makes my job very difficult in attracting foreign investment to Armenia.  However, as the old saying goes, “the truth shall set you free.”
    These officials who are currently engaged in these activities and those who have done their deed and fled Armenia already with the loot must be brought to justice if Armenia is to have a viable economy and attract foreign investment.  In my opinion, these individuals are not just corrupt,  they are traitors and should be subject to the death penalty.  They should be brought to justice in a Military Tribunal, and not in civil courts.  Their actions have a direct impact on the very survival of Armenia and has perpetuated the “brain-drain” of those who have chosen to abandon their homeland in pursuit of a better life elsewhere.  I find their crimes to be equal to that of Talat Pasha’s crimes, and they should face the same fate.
    The time has come for all of us as a nation and as a people to see corruption as not only a national problem for Armenia, which must be confronted before the economic, and the social progress of Armenia can reach its full maturity, but also a real problem which puts the Armenian Diaspora in eminent danger of loosing credibility in the eyes of other nations and thus putting Hye Tad in jeopardy.
    Enough is enough!  We have fought hard and paid dearly for the survival of the Armenian Nation and the Armenian People.  These criminals should not be allowed to hijack our children’s God given right to a homeland.

  4. Jacque armoudikian said:

    My friends it doesn’t matter how much we scream from the outside if the people on the inside do not stand and fight all our screams are in vain. if the parliament that represents the people  is backing the government what do you expect, its a lost case, unless a real revolution happens and prosecute these criminals and hang them publicly to be lesson for all.

  5. Philip said:

    I agree with you Jacque,  if the people in Armenia won’t stand up and raise their voice then our work in the diaspora will be in vain. You can not get people to rise up when they don’t know what’s going on or they are misinformed by the government run news.  There has to be slow progression of repatriation to bring the kind of change that, we, as the diaspora, want for our homeland.  Change can be made, if it has to let it be a revolution, an 85% poverty rate and the recent signing of the protocols, and political corruption has to be eradicated, repatriation will help make these changes. We need people, who care about not only the country, but the well being, interest, concerns and ideas of the Armenian people, to be leaders of Armenia. Not people who will gain something because they own  a business that the government can help make HIM money and make HIM happy. We need people who can think far beyond themselves and their needs, and Gery, I 100% agree with everything you said, good post.

  6. Armanen said:

    Another attempt by the west to dictate its terms on nations.  Corruption is a serious problem in many nations, the wealthier the nation the less noticable it is.

  7. Bruce Tasker said:

    Transparency International knows very well about my ‘Blowing the World Bank Whistle’ campaign demanding an inquiry into World Bank corruption in Armenia. The prime problem is that the two major international financial institutions (the WB and its sister institution the IMF) which operate permanently in Armenia, and which monitor all government finances, are themselves thoroughly corrupt and they drive government corruption. The latest WB and IMF credits clearly demonstrate this; the best part of a billion dollars to develop small and medium enterprise and to balance the budget is going straight into the pockets of regime cronies. These two institutions answer to no international authority, hence they operate corruptly and without control.
    In order to improve Armenia’s corruption standing, first it is imperative to bring the WB and the IMF under control. Jimmy McHugh, IMF permanent representative, said to me in 2004, when I asked if he should not stop a $100 million dollar government scam, as he was obliged to do – “It depends on my conscience”!!

  8. B. Baronian said:

    it is very sad to hear these allegations….whatever happened to national pride and integrity…. we still have a lot of growing up to do as a Nation….don’t we?

  9. Alex Postallian said:

    How can you expect Armenians in diaspora to support Armenia from outside evils,when there evils WITHIN?????

  10. Tamar Chahinian said:

    I wonder if we’ll be left with any politicians if they ever forbid Armenia’s top government officials to be allowed to have business interests. 
    I mean where is it heard of ???? Government officials to run cafes ???

  11. Mihran Keheyian said:

    What do you expect from these corrupt crooks.They should all be thrown in the prisons,diaspora must not spoil them any more as their political life cycle must be curtailed.

  12. Stepan said:

    Criticism
    The Corruption Perceptions Index has drawn increasing criticism in the decade since its launch, leading to calls for the index to be abandoned. [6][7][8] This criticism has been directed at the quality of the Index itself, and the lack of actionable insights created from a simple country ranking. [9][10] Because corruption is willfully hidden, it is impossible to measure directly; instead proxies for corruption are used. The CPI uses an eclectic mix of third-party surveys to sample public perceptions of corruption through a variety of questions, ranging from “Do you trust the government?” to “Is corruption a big problem in your country?”
    The use of third-party survey data is a source of criticism. The data can vary widely in methodology and completeness from country to country. The methodology of the Index itself changes from year to year, thus making even basic better-or-worse comparisons difficult. Media outlets, meanwhile, frequently use the raw numbers as a yardstick for government performance, without clarifying what the numbers mean.
    The lack of standardization and precision in these surveys is cause for concern. The authors of the CPI argue that averaging enough survey data will solve this; others argue that aggregating imprecise data only masks these flaws without addressing them. [11] In one case, a local Transparency International chapter disowned the index results after a change in methodology caused a country’s scores to increase—media reported it as an “improvement”. [12] Other critics point out that definitional problems with the term “corruption” makes the tool problematic for social science.
    Aside from precision issues, a more fundamental critique is aimed at the uses of the Index. Critics are quick to concede that the CPI has been instrumental in creating awareness and stimulating debate about corruption. However, as a source of quantitative data in a field hungry for international datasets, the CPI can take on a life of its own, appearing in cross-country and year-to-year comparisons that the CPI authors themselves admit are not justified by their methodology. The authors state in 2008: “Year-to-year changes in a country’s score can either result from a changed perception of a country’s performance or from a change in the CPI’s sample and methodology. The only reliable way to compare a country’s score over time is to go back to individual survey sources, each of which can reflect a change in assessment.” [13]
    The CPI produces a single score per country, which as noted above, cannot be compared year-to-year. As such, the Index is nearly useless as a tool for evaluating the impact of new policies.[14] In the late 2000s, the field has moved towards unpackable, action-oriented indices (such as those by the International Budget Partnership or Global Integrity), which typically measure public policies that relate to corruption, rather than try to assess “corruption” as a whole via proxy measures like perceptions. [9] These alternative measures use original (often locally collected) data and are limited in scope to specific policy practices (such as public access to parliamentary budget documents).

  13. Gary Bedian said:

    Stepan, I don’t need an index to gage the corruption in Armenia.  Even Ray Charles would see it, it is right in front of your eyes and it is bad.

  14. Haro said:

    The picture of the article is really ironic and very true. You see men in band new and աչածակող suits, while the background is rusted structure in ruin. The men look very strong and facing us, and yet behind this strength there is only destroyed and empty “national” power. All National values have been destroyed, population has been drained from Armenia, the national wealth looted, and so on…

  15. Raymond said:

    Corruption didn’t start with this government, nor will it end with it.  The rusted structure in ruins in the picture (response to Haro) has been there for ages.  If you ask any Armenian (from Armenia) they will tell you that corruption is deeply rooted amongst Armenians from all walks of life. From the grocer, to the butcher, the policeman, government official, University professor, school headmaster, the clergymen, and what have you.   And those who cheat the system, or their fellow compatriots are looked upon as “clever” by a good chunk of the population. Their excuse in Soviet times was that it’s the “system”, i.e. the Soviet system that has turned them into this way of life….  Whatever the reason, i.e.; poverty, survival, or no good reason, unfortunately that’s the reality.

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