YEREVAN—It is the U.S. government’s “priority to achieving a peaceful settlement for Nagorno-Karabakh’s future,” U.S Ambassador to Armenia Richard Mills said on Wednesday during remarks to the American Chamber of Commerce in Armenia.
“The more time I spend in Armenia, and certainly in the tragic aftermath of last April’s fighting, the more I realize how much the lack of a peaceful resolution to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflicts diverts precious resources – both Armenian and those provided from Armenia’s international and Diaspora friends – from our shared goals and, frankly, the priorities I and my Embassy have set for ourselves,” he said.
The Ambassador highlighted the association between corruption and its impact on national security. Part of his speech read “While the link between corruption and economic development, and between corruption and rule of law, have always been apparent, recently we’ve seen more discussion in Armenia about how corruption can impact and threaten national security. When I mentioned the intersection between corruption and national security in my speech to the AmCham 15 months ago, many people were surprised, many were dismissive. I don’t claim credit at all, but I think this issue is now more frankly addressed in Armenian political debates, and with proposals for serious action from the government, than it has been in the past. Certainly the public discourse during and after the Four-Day War in April highlighted the corrosive effect corruption can have on national security and brought the issue into the public spotlight.
However, the only way to achieve meaningful progress in the fight against corruption is for the government to demonstrate political will. The government must strengthen and empower public institutions at all levels and send a clear message from on high that corruption will not be tolerated and that no one is above the law. Absent this message, no truly transformative change can occur.”
During his speech Mills suggested that the Armenian government establish an independent anti-corruption body “with full investigative and prosecutorial authority.” He commented that in order for free and fair elections to take place, the government must create an environment where media and society are “free, independent, and unfettered.”