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Armenia: Doubts Abound on Anti-Corruption Initiative

Armenian Prime Minister Hovik Abrahamian (center) chairs a cabinet meeting in mid December 2014 during which tax, economic, and anti-corruption issues were discussed. Government critics are questioning the seriousness of a new 14-member advisory council – made up of six highly-ranked officials, including the prime minister – established to counter endemic corruption in the South Caucasus country. (Photo: Government of Armenia)

The Armenian government is pressing ahead with a new effort to contain corruption. But some critics question the integrity of those in charge of the initiative, citing possible conflicts of interest.
 
Armenia’s cabinet decided to revamp a state Anti-Corruption Council on February 19, one month after the European Union announced plans to allocate 21 million euros (nearly $23.3 million) to Yerevan. The EU money would be designed to promote anti-corruption programs and civil service reform.
 
Complaints about corruption in Armenia, the South Caucasus’ poorest country, are nothing new. Much of the graft is “controlled” by officials with business interests who oversee patron-client networks within the government itself, anti-corruption watchdog Transparency International Armenia wrote in a recent report. Sixty-three percent of the 1,068 Armenians surveyed for the organization’s 2013 Global Corruption Barometer stated that ordinary citizens can do nothing to influence this situation.
 

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Marianna Grigoryan is a freelance reporter based in Yerevan and editor of MediaLab.am.

Armenia: Doubts Abound on Anti-Corruption Initiative

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