Transparency International: Armenia Retreated from the Fight against Corruption
It is not possible to fight against corruption by legislative changes and forming various governmental councils. Serious structural changes and institutional reforms are necessary. Varujan Hoktanyan, Project Director of Transparency International Anti-Corruption Center, said this during the press conference at Media Center on January 25.

Varujan Hoktanyan presented the results of Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) 2016 of Transparency International global anti-corruption organization (TI). Since 1995, during 22 consecutive years, TI publishes the CPI, representing the perception of corruption in the public sector, based on expert assessments and opinion surveys. "We are talking about the public perception of corruption in the public system. The research is based on assessments of businessmen and experts and surveys," Hoktanyan said. 

In 2016, Armenia registered regress in both the Corruption Perception Index global rankings and the perception index. "If Armenia's index was 35 last year in the scale of 0 to 100, now it is 33. The more the index seeks to 100, the less corrupted the state is. This, of course, is not considered the decline of the rating statistically but if you compare with 2014, the decline is already 4 points. This is a significant figure," Hoktanyan said, adding that Armenia's position declined by 18 points in the international corruption rankings last year compared to 2015 which is alarming as “we stay in the same place, there is no progress."

Armenia shares places from 113 to 115 together with Bolivia and Vietnam among 176 countries in corruption perception index in 2016. "I said that Armenia dropped 18 units in perception index ranking, but the most worrying thing is the trend, which is observed in the last three years (2014-2016). It is the tendency to retreat in the perception of corruption index," he said.

The reasons for the situation in Armenia are multifaceted, the speaker said, adding that the real problem is the lack of structural reforms, the non-formal relations of elites and deterioration of the social-economic situation. "We have oligarchs and influential businessmen who have an impact on the government decisions. When they begin to dictate state policy, the picture is not encouraging. It turns out that the informal relations prevail, not the written rules of the game," Hoktanyan said, adding that according to the various studies, the most corrupted institutions were considered courts and health facilities, the tax authorities and the presidential administration in Armenia. 

According to the territorial division of the Transparency International, Armenia is included in the regional division of Eastern Europe and Central Asia region (see the corresponding regional table in 2016). The region comprises of non-EU Balkan countries (Montenegro, Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Albania, Macedonia and Kosovo), the former Soviet republics, except the EU member Baltic republics and Turkey. Armenia occupies the 10th place among 19 countries of the region (in 2015 he was in the 8th place).

“In 2016, Kosovo and Belarus are ahead of Armenia among the countries of this region. As a result, among the former Soviet republics Armenia is now behind not only the Baltic republics and Georgia, CPI of which is 57 in 2016 (in 2015 it was 52, there is an increase of 5 points), which is the highest in Eastern Europe and Central Asia region, but now it is also behind Belarus, the CPI of which had a very impressive improvement in 2016 (from 32 in 2015 to 40 in 2016 or by 8 points)," Hoktanyan said.

As in previous years, Armenia is still behind Turkey (42 instead of 41in 2015), which continues to register a significant decline since 2012, when its CPI was equal to 49 units. The other two neighbors of Armenia –Azerbaijan, and Iran, have improved their CPI indexes in 2016 compared to 2015. Azerbaijan's CPI is 30 (from 123 to 130) and Iran's CPI is 29 (from 131 to 135).

“CPI of other member states of the Eurasian Economic Union, except Belarus, continues to remain lower than CPI of Armenia. In particular, the CPI of Russia is 29 points (131 to 135 positions). CPI of Kyrgyzstan has not changed (28 points, 136 to 141 positions), and the CPI of Kazakhstan has increased by 1 point, equal to 29 (131 to 135 positions)," Hoktanyan said.

Varujan Hoktanyan especially drew attention to Panama and other offshore scandals have shown that high-ranking officials stealing public funds, successfully transfer them to offshore zones, while no one is able to resist this vicious process.

Denmark and New Zealand are the leaders in the  Corruption Perceptions Index of 2016. "These are the least corrupted countries in the world. Their index is 99, which means that there is almost no corruption in these countries. Denmark and New Zealand are followed by Sweden and Finland. In contrast, the world's most corrupted countries are Somalia, South Sudan, and Syria," Hoktanyan concluded.  
Arshaluys Mghdesyan, editor/events coordinator at “Media Center”

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