YEREVAN — Armenia has further improved its position in an annual survey of corruption perceptions around the world conducted by Transparency International.

It ranked, together with Jordan and Slovakia, 60th out of 180 countries and territories evaluated in the Berlin-based watchdog’s 2020 Corruption Perception Index (CPI) released on Thursday.

Armenia and two other countries shared 77th place in the previous CPI released a year ago. Transparency International assigned the South Caucasus state a CPI “score” of 42 out of 100 at the time. The watchdog raised the score to 49 in the latest survey.

“It is the second largest [CPI score] increase in the world after Maldives,” it said in an explanatory note.

Armenia was 105th in the corruption perception rankings two years ago. It still trails neighboring Georgia but is ahead of its three other neighbors: Azerbaijan, Iran and Turkey. Georgia occupies 45th place in the 2020 CPI.

“A country to watch last year, Armenia has taken a gradual approach to reform, resulting in steady and positive improvements in anti-corruption,” says a Transparency International report.

“However, safeguarding judicial independence and ensuring checks and balances remain critical first steps in its anti-corruption efforts,” it adds. “The effectiveness of those efforts is additionally challenged by the current political and economic crisis as a result of a recent Nagorno-Karabakh conflict and the subsequent protests against Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan over a ceasefire deal.”

Pashinyan has repeatedly claimed to have eliminated “systemic corruption” since coming to power in May 2018. Armenian law-enforcement authorities have launched dozens of high-profile corruption investigations during his rule. They mostly target former top government officials and individuals linked to them.

Earlier this month the Armenian parliament began debating a government bill that calls for the creation of a special law-enforcement agency tasked with investigating corruption cases. The government also plans to set up new courts dealing only with such cases.

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