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Corruption Is No Secret For Armenia

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  • Corruption Is No Secret For Armenia

    30 March 06

    Armenia surprised the CoE body against corruption, which is otherwise
    called GRECO. On March 29 the Armenian envoy to GRECO Arthur Osikyan
    and the adviser to the president of Armenia on anticorruption issues
    Bagrat Yesayan announced about this amazement at the press hall of
    Armenpress. One should not think, however, that GRECO was surprised
    by the level of corruption in our country. No. It is rather the
    opposite. The point is that a meeting of GRECO took place on March
    6-10, and a report on the level of corruption in Armenia was adopted,
    based on the survey of the experts of GRECO. We will touch upon the
    report later, and now we should hurry to say that GRECO was surprised
    because Armenia wished to have a report on Armenia published. GRECO
    reports on countries are usually confidential, and are published if
    only the country agrees. In this case GRECO did not even manage to
    ask for a permission, for Armenia was the first to proposed that the
    report be published.

    For us, there is nothing amazing about this for the simple reason that
    the level of corruption in Armenia is not a secret. Every citizen
    of Armenia can tell which official is corrupt and how corrupt he or
    she is. No doubt the government that proposed publishing the report
    had intended something else. This is the whole problem. GRECO report
    is not tough on Armenia. After the reports on countries GRECO gives
    corresponding recommendations on improving the situation. To compare,
    Armenia was given less recommendations than, for instance, Poland,
    Romania, Slovakia. Moreover, Georgia, which is facing problems with
    GRECO, according to Bagrat Yesayan, for Georgia has not carried out the
    recommendations. The same awaits Armenia if it fails to fulfill the
    24 recommendations of GRECO by September 30, 2007. In the meantime,
    their fulfillment seems unlikely. Judge yourselves. The majority of
    recommendations refers to the necessity of upgrading legislation. And
    the members of our legislative body have a greater concern than the
    struggle against corruption. They must struggle for and not against,
    the future parliament, not corruption. This important question will be
    determined by the election in the spring of 2007. In other words, the
    National Assembly and the coalition, which has a deciding role, will
    be engaged in the pre-election fuss and normal legislative activity
    will be physically impossible. In the meantime, this deadline is not
    very far.

    "When you say coalition, do not forget about the fourth party, the
    president of Armenia; the presidential election will be in 2008.

    In other words, I think, the president will pursue the legislative
    actions of the newly-elected National Assembly, required by the
    recommendations of GRECO in the three months prior to September,"
    said Bagrat Yesayan, adviser to the president. In fact, he admits that
    the pre-election situation will naturally impact the effectiveness of
    the parliament and, what is more, the wish to struggle corruption. But
    similarly one may wonder why Robert Kocharyan should be interested in
    struggling against corruption if 2008 is the last year of his office,
    and he cannot be re-elected.

    Besides, why should Robert Kocharyan be interested if he has never
    vowed or annoucned about his determination to uproot corruption.

    Particularly, the president has not instructed the special agencies
    of the country to find out why the ministers of the country declare
    a property of a poor man, but live like sheiks.

    According to Bagrat Yesayan, as long as the legislation has setbacks,
    the president will not be able to instruct investigating the activity
    and punishing top officials even if the president is willing to.

    "There can be no effectiveness as long as the income of officials and
    their relatives is declared. It would be idealism. It is necessary
    that all the natural persons should declare their property, the
    entire field needs to be covered to have an effective mechanism,"
    says Bagrat Yesayan. He says, for instance, officials in Armenia have
    the right to get presents every day, worth six times as much as their
    salary under the order maintained in 1993.

    Bagrat Yesayan thinks it is necessary to follow which political group
    hampers struggle against corruption. For instance, he says, the bill
    on declaration of income and property of natural persons has been at
    the National Assembly for two years now but certain forces hamper it.

    What do you think this certain force, according to Bagrat Yesayan,
    is? No, you are mistaken, it is not the coalition, it is the People's
    Deputy Group. However, it is a secret, or only Bagrat Yesayan knows
    how the group of 16 members of parliament could hamper the activity
    of the majority, struggling against corruption.

    In the meantime, Bagrat Yesayan is unaware why the U.S. Department
    of State accuses the Armenian government of lack of political will in
    struggle against corruption. At least, he says that he does not know.

    The president's adviser on anti-corruption issues states that he
    disagrees with the evaluation of the United States.