Illusive corruption combating in Armenia06.11.2012 | 18:20
Last week, an anti-corruption council meeting chaired by Prime Minister Tigran Sargsyan and attended by representatives of the opposition and international organizations, was held in the Armenian government. Strengthening of corruption combating, according to the Armenian Prime Minister, is a direct order of President Serzh Sargsyan. Many politicians regarded this meeting as part of the pre-election PR campaign of the incumbent president ahead of the presidential election of 2013.
Anti-corruption authorities' marathon doesn't inspire confidence due to the lack of tangible results, high-profile investigations and arrests of the official mired in corruption. Skepticism of the experts about the efficiency and sincerity of the anti-corruption campaign is also associated with its timing - on the eve of the presidential election. In addition, the situation is aggravated by the very essence of corruption in the Armenian state, which, as noted by the Transparency International, is elitist.
The crisis of confidence to the anti-corruption front
According to most experts, involvement of public organizations and opposition forces in the anti-corruption front has one goal - to expand the campaign in order to give it greater legitimacy.
The work of the anti-corruption council, at least for now, involves two opposing forces - "Heritage" and "Dashnaktsutiun" (Armenian Revolutionary Federation - ARF). The main idea of their proposals is as follows: to improve the council it must be headed by the opposition. "Anti-corruption body is not working well, because it is led by the Prime Minister. If we want to improve its efficiency, it must be under the control of the opposition", said the deputy of the ARF faction Vahan Hovhannisyan.
In order to effectively fight against such a "social evil" as corruption, the opposition has to use "surgical techniques." "We should not to dismiss the officials mired in corruption, but to arrest them", said Hovhannisyan.
Armenian National Congress (ANC) and "Prosperous Armenia" Party (PAP) did not participate in the meeting. "We are not interested in theoretical anti-corruption lectures, we need a clear results", said the PAP spokesman Tigran Urikhanyan. "We do not take part in a performance. Corruption pyramid of Armenia is identical to the power pyramid. Corruption in Armenia is systemic, headed by Serzh Sargsyan, who will not and cannot fight against it, ", said in the statement of the ANC.
Corruption in Armenia and relation to the state
Corruption, corroding the state apparatus and reducing its effectiveness, is the source of citizens' negative attitude towards authorities and the state as a whole. According to the Corruption Perception Index, calculated by the Transparency International, in 2011 Armenia continued to be among the countries in which this phenomenon is systemic.
Overall, however, according to the experts, corruption is a stabilizing factor for Armenia's political system, since often fuels the whole bureaucratic apparatus, thus being a mean to bribe loyalty. In this case, corruption, as a political institution, sets rules for the ruling elites and determines the framework for cooperation between the state and interest groups.
"That is why we often face high inertness of the authorities in corruption combating when we are speaking about specific people on senior positions. Power is very hard to get rid of corrupt officials, since they are in the bundle, and to get rid of one element - it is like cutting off part of own body", observers say.
According to the experts, corruption is often used to control the bureaucracy and the business through the so-called "mechanism of hostages". All those involved in the corruption market get a certain "piece of cake", but become dependent on the punitive bodies. Thus, corruption is a basis for the policy of "carrot and stick", where the "stick" can be applied to all who dare to speak out against the regime, and the benefit from participation in corruption schemes constitutes a "carrot".