Corruption Survey - Armenia 78th Place.
Posted 23 October 2003 - 08:33 PM
Emil Danielyan: 10/20/03
Transparency International, an international non-governmental organization, has ranked Yerevan among the least corrupt former Soviet republics. Azerbaijan and Georgia, along with Central Asian states, lagged near the bottom of the NGO’s annual corruption survey.
Armenia came in 78th place in Transparency International’s 2003 survey of 133 countries, formally known as the Corruption Perceptions Index. Among Caucasus countries, Armenia ranked far ahead of Azerbaijan and Georgia, which shared 124th place together with three other states. Corruption in Baku and Tbilisi is "pervasive," according to the annual survey.
Bangladesh rated as the world’s most corrupt country, while Finland ranked as the cleanest. Russia ranked 86th. Among Central Asian states, Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan tied in 100th. Kyrgyzstan was 118th and Tajikistan was 124th. Turkmenistan was not rated.
The ranking was determined by the extent of their corrupt practices as perceived by business leaders, academics and risk analysts. All countries were evaluated on a 10-point scale, in which a score of 10 represented an absence of graft. Armenia scored 3.0 in Transparency’s Corruption Perception Index, up from 2.5 points it received in 2000. The score, though low in absolute terms, puts the country just below the NGO’s threshold for a "high level" of corruption.
Representatives of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) have endorsed Transparency International’s findings, based on separate studies conducted by international lending institutions.
"A number of other studies ... have basically confirmed the observation that if one looks at the CIS as a whole, Armenia is among the better performers," said James McHugh, the IMF resident representative in Yerevan.
McHugh cautions at the same time that the Armenian authorities still have "a long way to go" in promoting the rule of law. This is also the point stressed by independent Armenian experts. "In my opinion, going up from 2.5 to 3.0 in three years is a modest achievement," says Arevik Saribekian of Transparency International’s Armenian branch. "Corruption may indeed be down but we shouldn’t consider it a high score."
Corrupt practices, which date back to the Soviet era, have long been as a serious hindrance to Armenia’s economic development, which is also hampered by the unresolved conflict over Nagorno-Artsax. [For background see the Eurasia Insight archive]. Improper conduct, including bribery and nepotism – remains relatively common among government bureaucrats. Bribes are often offered to get officials to turn a blind eye on tax evasion, cover up a criminal case, speed up bureaucratic paperwork or even enroll a student in a state university.
The impact of graft has been particularly negative on the country’s investment climate. Some forms of lucrative economic activity (e.g., imports of fuel and basic foodstuffs) still require government patronage. Also, many businesses have long complained about harassment from corrupt tax and customs officials.
Authorities in Yerevan have been under growing pressure from the IMF and other Western donors to tackle the problem. In recent years, they have simplified Armenia’s business legislation and enacted a set of laws aimed at complicating abuses committed by government officials. However, virtually no senior government officials have been sacked or prosecuted on corruption charges.
In late 2001, the government received a $340,000 grant from the World Bank to work out a comprehensive anti-corruption strategy. Publication of the document has since been repeatedly delayed and is now expected by the end of this year.
Armenian opposition leaders have expressed skepticism over whether President Robert Kocharian’s administration has the political will to implement an anti-corruption plan. Kocharian critics maintain that corruption serves as a key pillar of Armenia’s oligarchic political order. To support their claims, opposition point to Armenia’s presidential and parliamentary elections earlier this year, which were both marred by widespread allegations of fraud. [For background see the Eurasia Insight archive].
McHugh, however, noted the Armenian government has registered significant anti-corruption results in recent years, singling out Armenia’s banking and energy sectors as the areas where progress has been particularly evident. "There is a perception out there that Armenia is a very corrupt country," McHugh explains. "But what we see from these indicators is that perhaps that impression is too negative and that the situation is improving."
In the words of another member of Transparency International’s Armenian affiliate, Varuzhan Hoktanian, a lot will depend on public scrutiny over the implementation of anti-graft measures. "World experience shows that countries with strong civil societies are less corrupt because their citizens hold their rulers in check," he says. "Government programs alone don’t solve problems."
Editor’s Note: Emil Danielyan is a Yerevan-based journalist and political analyst.
Posted 06 December 2010 - 10:50 AM
Spin the bottle is a party game in which several players sit in a circle. One player spins a bottle or and must kiss the person to whom the bottle points (or the nearest person of the opposite sex), who then spins the bottle in turn.
A spinning bottle can also be used to decide the player for another game, such as Truth or Dare?
Pres. Truman pointing to himself said - “The buck stops here” Was his family name Truman meant to mean “TRUE MAN”? Was Pres. Truman's real family name "trumian" or "tarumian? Obviously not.He was a TRUE Christian, unlike those who claim to be the "FIRST".
A person who publicizes favorable interpretations of the words and actions of a public figure, especially a politican
Pass the buck-Meaning
Evade responsibility by passing it on to someone else.
It is easy to “pass the buck” and blame all the ills on the “soviet era”. Those days were a whole generation ago, babies born on that day are now adults with beard, moustache,having their own babies,some are soldiers at the frontlines.
When we survey the statistics below , we will notice that the most corrupt societies, be they easteren Europe of western Asia , they all fall within a big circle around the Middles East. Not to forget that Armenia and Armenians are middle easterners. I have said this before, I will repeat. When a middle easterner, an Arab preface their statement by invoking and swearing in the name of god- “wallahi/and my god“, and “billahi/by my god”, you know the next sentence will be a lie. The most immediate reason I left those ME lands and migrated to these lands was I was sick and tired of having to pay "under the counter" for even a simple procedure as to obtain a student pass or a movie ticket.
We compare ourselves with peoples and countries like Switzerland an Sweden. OH YEAH!!! Neither of which are middle eastern, Muslim or predominantly Catholic, not even close.
We don’t even have an Armenian word for “corruption”. Is it beacuse it comes in the "same package", a fact of life that does not deserve a separate definition? Of course, we can always blame lenin/stalin and that mumbo jumbo "ras-Putin" for our ills.
Putin turned a bankrupt country to once again a world power. Where are our "putins"?
My apologies for the length of the article, but I could not decide where to draw the line.
Blaming inherited “Soviet Legacy” is convenient but incorrect
By Markar Melkonian
In the early 1990’s, when the anti-Soviet sun reached its zenith, an observer from the diaspora expressed a common view: In Armenia, he wrote, “the real threat to the mafia” was “an end to the Communist Party’s stranglehold on power.” (Mark Malkasian, “Gha-ra-bagh!” p. 166.)
This author was in good company. None other than Milton Friedman, in his celebrated bestseller Capitalism and Freedom (1962), has assured us that capitalism reduces corruption.
In those days, visitors and residents alike were exasperated by the black-marketeering, the cronyism, the gasharagerutiun and patronage that punctuated daily life in Soviet Armenia. Corruption was almost inescapable, and it accounted to a large extent for the almost comical inefficiency of state-owned enterprises and the shoddiness of their products; from cognac to construction materials.
Well, the Communist Party’s stranglehold did indeed end, and twenty years later we see the results: an explosion of thuggery, extortion, kickbacks, the pillage of state coffers; seizures of public lands, evictions of homeowners, censorship, and impunity far beyond anything that had existed during the seven decades of Soviet rule in Armenia.
Armenia’s entrepreneurs have opened entirely new fields of economic activity, too, including nonpayment of wages, exploitation of child labor, a gambling industry, assassination-for-hire, and prostitution as an export industry.
Economists and ministers in the West have heartily congratulated Armenia’s ruling gangsters for embracing “reforms,” making “hard choices,” and privatizing everything from land to social security. Meanwhile, of course, the “reformers” were lining their pockets, even as their compatriots were pulling up their floorboards to burn as firewood to keep from freezing to death.
In Armenia, Friedman’s prognosis regarding the salutary effects of capitalism on corruption has not fared much better than his claim that capitalism diminishes inequalities. (Let us remind ourselves that twenty years ago, many officeholders in Armenia would have nodded in agreement with Friedman’s claim in Capitalism and Freedom that “inequality may well be decidedly less in capitalist than in communist countries.”)
Cold War victors have been fond of saying that the demise of Soviet socialism was the result of “the nearest thing to a controlled experiment in history.” If this is the case, then perhaps the “transition” back to capitalist rule has also been something like a controlled experiment.
In Armenia, the sequence of events would appear to be clear enough: as soon as Free Enterprise rose like the warm sun and illumined smiling faces, aspiring capitalists seized the country’s productive assets, gutted industry, depopulated the countryside, and plunged most households into penury.
And yet, twenty years after Boris Yeltsin hauled down the red flag, we still hear that corruption in post-Soviet Armenia is the residue of a “mentality” that has its origin in seventy years of Soviet misrule.
According to one common belief, Armenia’s tycoons trace their pedigrees directly back to the old Soviet nomenklatura. But a quick review of the roster reveals that most of post-Soviet Armenia’s plutocrats hail from non-gusagtsagan backgrounds; they are not, as a rule, sons of high-ranking apparatchiks or the old nomenklatura.
Nor is corruption unique to former Soviet republics.
For what it’s worth, Transparency International’s Corruption Perceptions Index 2010 (which purports to register “perceptions” of political, business, and police corruption “as seen by business people and country analysts”) reports that, of the 159 countries listed, three out of the twenty most corrupt countries are former Soviet or Eastern Block countries. (In descending order, these are Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, and Turkmenistan, which is fifth from the bottom. Armenia appears in the 88th position from the top, tied with Benin, Bosnia, and Gabon, among other countries.)
Transparency International’s index is hardly a ringing endorsement of clean government in the former Soviet states; nevertheless, there is no obvious correlation here between former Soviet status and post-Soviet corruption. What is striking is that there are no New Zealands, Swedens, or Japans among the most corrupt countries on the index: every country listed in the bottom half of the index is a “poor” country.
Corruption is not a feature unique to either capitalism or to socialism. Rather, it is a predictable consequence of the combination of poverty on the one hand and bureaucracy, whether public or private, legal or criminal.
Of course, this is not to say that corruption is a necessary concomitant of poverty. Left-wing local governments from India to Cyprus and Spain have earned reputations for honesty and accountability. Even in richer countries, from Japan to Italy, left-wing administrations have operated within extremely inhospitable circumstances of capitalist states, delivering clean, efficient, and responsive municipal and regional governance. Outside of their constituencies, however, they have received precious little credit for it.
Nor is poverty an indispensable ingredient in the recipe for corruption. As events of recent years remind us, corruption on an enormous scale can proliferate even in the wealthiest countries. After all, the United States of America, that self-designated embodiment of free market propriety and the rule of law, is also the land of Goldman Sachs and the home of Arthur Anderson, Enron, and Blackwater. (The USA is listed 17th from the top of the Transparency International index.)
In the Land of Opportunity, the sons and grandsons of the upstarts–the John Fitzgerald Kennedy’s, Nelson Rockefellers, and all the rest of them–traded in their fathers’ fedoras for halos. Through more thorough control of political institutions, they and their lieutenants dignified their past larceny and extortion by pushing legislation that forbade competitors from resorting to the very practices that permitted the original tycoons themselves to attain their exalted status of rectitude.
The hope among the Junior Achievement types is that when the mafiosi change the system to legitimate their rule and secure their supremacy against the threat of upstarts, then Armenia will follow America’s lead in this, as in most other things.
If anything, it is surprising that Armenia’s plutocrats have been so dilatory when it comes to propping phony halos on their heads. But it will happen some day: the gangsters will pay for extreme makeovers as philanthropists and upright citizens.
Unfortunately, there is little to indicate that this sort of wardrobe change will improve life for most Armenians. The country has no vast western frontier to expand into; it has no vast domestic markets; no vast resources, and it is landlocked. Moreover, the capitalist rulers have decimated Soviet-era public schooling, thereby denying Armenia its best hope to eventually resemble Switzerland more than Bolivia.
As long as they continue to get away with it, the usual suspects will continue to blame today’s corruption on a mentality mysteriously inherited from the Soviet past.
But for people who are more committed to truth than to Milton Friedman’s theology, it is time to stop talking that way. Armenia’s unprecedented corruption, both legal and illegal, is a predictable result of the poverty and demoralization that showed up along with capitalism.
Markar Melkonian is a writer and teacher living in Los Angeles.
Edited by Arpa, 07 December 2010 - 07:23 AM.
Posted 08 December 2010 - 05:58 PM
Posted 08 December 2010 - 07:27 PM
Yes it seems so. There are many refernces to it. Here is one;
Arpa is MArkar Melkonyan ' Monthes brother ?
Also look here;
Markar Melkonian is an Armenian-American writer and a solidarity worker, resident in the United States.
Melkonian wrote a biography of his brother, Monte Melkonian, entitled "My Brother's Road: An American's Fateful Journey to Armenia", detailing his brother's involvement in the struggle for Armenian independence in the 1990s.
Markar is the founder and Director of the Monte Melkonian Charity fund.
Edited by Arpa, 08 December 2010 - 07:43 PM.
Posted 19 April 2011 - 12:40 AM
Edited by Alyona, 19 April 2011 - 12:40 AM.
Posted 19 April 2011 - 12:48 AM
I've read somewhere that some corruption is after-all not so bad because it keeps aggressive politicians busy making money and not trying to find other means of power and repression... I don't know if I agree with that, but the source seemed reputable and made some sense. Unfortunately I can't find it right now.
was it written by a reputable corrupt politician? or by one of his cronies?
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