By Sarkis Y. Karayan, M.D.

Corruption in Armenia is no secret to Armenians both in Armenia and in Diaspora. In Armenia they have invented the maverick word “Gorruptsia” for this deplorable condition created by the governing authorities. As we will see in this article, conditions in Armenia have been getting worse especially during the last ten years or so.

What are the types of corruption that exist in Armenia?
According to a survey by the Armenian Center for National and International Studies (ACNIS), the most common popular perception of the problem’s root causes are political, with 42.8 percent of the respondents saying that Armenia’s rulers lack legitimacy because they did not come to power as a result of democratic elections. Here is a quote from Stepan Safarian, a leading ACNIS analyst: “In a country that has disputed elections many people agree that the government gives privileges and other rewards to those who helped them to power”. In this survey, more than a third of those polled said they were offered bribes in return for voting for particular candidates during presidential and parliamentary elections of 2003. The survey also suggests that nearly half of Armenian citizens bribe government officials at least once a year. Health care institutions, the judiciary and the military were singled out by most respondents as the most corrupt structures in Armenia”.
The persuit of corruption in different countries is carried out by non-governmental agencies. The evaluation depends upon several problems that exist in each country . The most common problems persued are: bribery, corruption, human traficking, crimes etc. In its annual global report issued last week, the “Human Rights Watch’ in New York and Yerevan reported in 2010, that the government continues to tolerate widespread torture by authorities, maintains a hold on broadcast media and restricts freedom of assembly.
The purpose of this article is to highlight a serious problem that all Armenians, especially the government officials in Armenia, should focus on and take drastic measures to stop the widespread corruption in Armenia. I have been following this phenomenon since 2003, by writing articles in Armenian newspapers, both in Armenian and English. The figures I have referred to and the conclusions I have drawn are all based on research data reported by the Transparency International.

Transparency International (TI)
This is an international, non-governamental organization devoted to combating corruption, that brings civil society, business and governments together in a powerful coalition. Transparency International was established in 1993 with main offices both in Berlin and London. Through its International Secreteriat, and more than 85 independent national chapters around the world, this organization works at both the national and international level to curb both the supply and demand of corruption.
This is the global civil society organization leading the fight against corruption. It was established to “challenge the inevitability of corruption.” TI works to raise awareness of the ills of corruption, to reduce apathy and tolerance of the practice and to develop practical actions to address it. TI believes that its effort “improves the lives of millions around the world by building momentum for the anti-corruption movement.”
Transparency International, through its International Secretariat and more than 85 independent national chapters around the world, works at both the national and international level to curb both the supply and demand of corruption. In the international arena, TI raises awareness about the damaging effects of corruption, advocates policy reform , works towards the implementation of multilateral conventions. At the national level, chapters work to increase levels of accountability and transparency , monitoring the performance of key institutions and pressing for necessary reforms in a non-party political manner.

Corruption Perception Index (CPI)
The Transparency International publishes an annual global report each year, during the month of December, which includes the list of countries and their Corruption Perception Index (CPI). CPI ranks countries in terms of the degree to which corruption is perceived to exist among public officials and politicians. It reflects the views of business people and analysts from around the world, including experts who are local in the countries evaluated.
The Corruption Perception Index(CPI) Score relates to perception of the degree of corruption as seen by business people and country analysts and ranges between 10 (highly clean) and 0 (highly corrupt). For example, in 2010, Denmark qualified as highly clean with a CPI score of 9.3, whereas Somalia qualified as highly corrupt with a CPI score of 1.1. Armenia’s CPI score was 2.6.
In my article entitled “Quo Vadis Armenia?” that appeared in the Armenian Observer on Dec. 28, 2005, Massis Weekly and Nor Gyank, I reported the CPI scores for Armenia for the years 2004 and 2005. The CPI scores had gone down from 3 to 2.9, which demonstrates clearly that corruption had increased in Armenia, an already corrupt country, in a matter of only one year.
A closer and objective review of CPI scores for Armenia shows that corruption in Armenia is on the rise, and it seems that no progress has been made in combating this man-made calamity.
The table below presents the CPI scores for Armenia for the years between 2003 and 2010. Column 2 presents the CPI score for each year mentioned in the right column. The reader will clearly see a downward trend, which translates into increased levels of corruption over the years. Another interesting yet sad informaiton is presented in column 3, which shows how Armenia ranks compared with other countries. Thus, whereas Armenia ranked 77th out of 145 countries in 2003, it ranked 123rd during 2010. This means that in 2010, 122 countries ranked better than Armenia which means that they were less corrupt than our own country. Unfortunately Armenia’s CPI is getting lower evry year, which means that corruption is alarmingly on the rise.

Year CPI Score Country Rank
2003 3.0 77th out of 145 countries
2004 3.0 88th out of 145 countries
2005 2.9 88th out of 158 countries
2006 2.9 93th out of 193 countries
2007 3.0 99th out of 179 countries
2008 2.9 109th out of 180 countries
2009 2.9 110th out of 180 countries
2010 2.6 123th out of 181 countries

It should be noted that Transparency International Corruption Report states clearly that “A CPI score of 5 or less means the country has a serious corruption problem “. This statement about Armenia was confirmed by Naira Zohrabyan, the Chairwoman of the Committee for European Integration, in December 2010: “Armenia has still serious social problems to resolve.We have bribery and corruption, and we can not say we have made great progress in battling them.”

The Center for Regional Development in Armenia
This Center cooperates with Transparency International, to fight against corruption, since November 2000. The Chairwoman of this program is Amalia Kostanyan. In an interview given by Kostanyan to Onnik Krikorian, on 2 February 2004, she was asked “How does corruption manifest itself in Armenia and what specific damage does it cause to the state”. Her answer was: “ Corruption manifests itself in various forms such as bribes, ‘service fees’ and ‘unofficial fines’, gifts, hospitality and other special ‘services’, exchange of favors, nepotism and clanship, protectionism and rent seeking, misuse and miscalculation of public funds and property, state capture and illegal lobbying, abuse of public office, facilitation in bidding and contracting, state intervention in the activities of public and private institutions, hiding illegal practices and avoiding punishment, donations for election campaigns, buying votes and members of electoral commissions, sale of positions, political appointments to non-political positions etc”.
I hope that the Armenian government officials and, all those persons responsible for the downhill descent of conditions in Armenia, take their jobs more seriously and do their best to prevent the widespread use of practices that cause corruption to be an impending menace to the advancement and welfare of our homeland. We remain hopeful!

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