center's director Arevik Saribekyan, left,
with Republican party member Hovsep Avagyan,
one of the center's first visitors.
A center has opened in Yerevan, intended to help
fight Armenia's considerable corruption problem.
The Anti-Corruption Resource Center, supported
by the Armenian branch of Center for Regional
Development/ Transparency International (CRD/TI)
was inaugurated last week.
Minister of Justice David Harutyunyan said during
the opening ceremony that the "government
is firm in its decision to crackdown on corruption,
but its efforts would not be effective without
broad public support."
It is hoped that the center will help lend such
support by raising public awareness.
The CRD/TI was founded in Armenia last year to
promote transparent and accountable governance,
to prevent corrupt behavior of state authorities,
investigate cases of corruption and publicize
names of those who are benefiting at the expense
"The center's rich library welcomes all
those who want to get information about the subject,
says Arevik Saribekyan, the Center's Director,
adding that the center will conduct training courses
for specialists and non-governmental organizations.
Hovsep Avagyan from the Republican party was
one of the first visitors to the anti-corruption
"Corruption in the country has reached a
peak, where not only ordinary people but also
politicians do not know how to prevent it. I believe
that the center will be especially useful for
the young people and students," Avagyan says.
Armenian and international analysts say that
corruption in Armenia hinders efforts to attract
foreign investment and is the main reason Armenia
is seen as a risky market for the international
According to a recent report by the Economist
Intelligence Unit magazine: "Armenia attracted
a paltry $19 million in foreign direct investment
during the first quarter of 2002, down almost
50 percent, compared to the same period the previous
"Despite a favorable, market-oriented legislative
framework foreign companies have remained reluctant
to invest in Armenia because implementation and
enforcement of the laws has been extremely weak."
The widespread opinion in Armenia is that under
the current economic environment it is impossible
to build a substantial fortune running a legal
business, and that amassing wealth requires corruption
"Corruption is the first of all hindrance
to small and medium business," says Vardkes
Simonyan, the owner of one of a grocery store
on Kievyan street. "Corruption is not when
you give or take a bribe, but is when the interests
of a small group of oligarchs prevail over the
interests of the state and its economic development."
The Armenian Government announced that the fight
against corruption is among its top priorities.
The Anti-corruption Commission was established
to expedite the drafting of new legislation to
eradicate bribery and cronyism and to implement
a radical reorganization of the state apparatus
to eliminate red tape.
A survey conducted last year by CRD/TI showed
that 96 percent of respondents consider corruption
as problematic in Armenia. The respondents said
state officials are the main perpetrators of corruption.
The survey also showed that 54 percent of the
state officials said that the level of corruption
has increased during the last five years.
According to Transparency International specialists,
one of the most dangerous manifestations of their
survey is that only a few respondents said they
would report incidences of corruption to corresponding
The Yerevan Anti-Corruption Center has become
the seventh such center in the post-Soviet republics.
The center will soon launch a series of video
clips on prevention of corruption. Five branches
of the center will be opened in Armenian marzes