Tag Archives: corruption

Armenia needs structural reforms to fight corruption. For the reforms to work, the government and CSOs must establish a better dialogue in the fight against corruption. These and many other issues were discussed on 13 May 2016 during the Government-civil society anti-corruption conference, which took place within the “Multi-faceted anti-corruption promotion” project, funded by the EU and co-funded by the OSCE Yerevan Office. The conference consisted of two sessions: “Government-Civil society anti-corruption conference”, and “Conference of the CSO Anti-corruption coalition”.
The Head of the EU Delegation to Armenia, Ambassador Piotr Świtalski, stressed the importance of the fight against corruption in Armenia: ‘There is nothing more pleasant than to see government ministers, public officials, and civil society uniting around a common aim and discussing the fight against corruption. As I have said on previous occasions, I believe that, for Armenia, the fight against corruption should be a topic for national consensus – a cause that will unite all stakeholders: government, parties, and CSOs. I think that recent events have demonstrated that the fight against corruption should be a priority for Armenia due to its strategic importance. The Government of Armenia has adopted a number of very important and good documents. However, what we need now is not only new plans, words and declarations, but facts and visible results. Indeed, this is what the Armenian public demands. The EU has committed €15 million to help Armenia fight corruption; when I say committed, I do not mean distributed. There are strict conditions – if there will not be concrete results, money will not be allocated’.
The Armenian Minister of Justice, Arpine Hovhannisyan, also attended the event and shared some steps that the government had already taken to fight corruption: ‘I appreciate that this meeting is taking place within the government-civil society collaboration platform. Civil society’s participation in any arena is one of the pledges of success; our experience shows that cooperation with civil society has the potential to bring about good results. A number of steps have already been taken and the results are already visible; even more efforts have been made, but the results will be visible later’.
Head of the OSCE Office in Yerevan, Argo Avakov, spoke about the OSCE’s commitment to supporting Armenia in combatting corruption: ‘The fight against corruption is a shared priority of the Armenian authorities, private sector, CSOs, ordinary citizens, and the international community. We encourage the active participation of CSOs and the private sector in the implementation of the reforms; our office has supported projects that have been generously funded by the EU’.
The President of the Armenian Lawyers’ Association, Karen Zadoyan, provided a civil society perspective: ‘We all know that the fight against corruption is visible and effective if it is being implemented through the joint efforts of the public and the government. This means that the public no longer wants to tolerate corruption in our country and reaches out to the authorities and government to show real political will to combat corruption and to achieve real results, which are visible to the public’.
Moreover, the Executive Director of the Transparency International Anti-corruption Centre, Varuzhan Hoktanyan, as well as other participants of the conference gave thematic presentations on government-civil society cooperation and anti-corruption activities carried out in Armenia.

The Head of the EU Delegation to Armenia, Ambassador Piotr Antoni Świtalski, and other representatives from the EU Delegation attended an event to mark the creation of an anti-corruption game. The event took place at the TUMO centre for creative technologies on 16 December 2015. The event took place in the cinema hall; however, to reach it, guests had to participate in the game. The aim of the game was to choose a shorter path by “paying” with pins or to go the long way round by not giving anything. However, those who chose the “corrupt” way reached the end later than others.
ARS_0272Ambassador Świtalski gave some advice to the youngsters from TUMO: ‘I am here because the fight against corruption is important for the EU; the EU is dedicated to helping Armenia overcome this problem. Corruption is one of the most serious structural problems for Armenia and, if it is not solved, Armenia will not be able to develop and move forward. Today we explore an innovative approach to fighting corruption and I am very happy that my colleagues have initiated this cooperation with TUMO. I think it is very important that we’ve started with young people, because, from an early age, children and teenagers see how their parents first pay bribes at school, then at university for a diploma, then to find a job. They see that it’s bad, but everyone does it. By engaging young people we will have very positive results. Armenia is a country with huge potential and lot of this potential is unused because of corruption. Let’s make a change – we are here to help you to make that change, but it’s you who have to do it!’
TUMO board member Pegor Papazian stated that the project will be sponsored by the EU and implemented by TUMO: ‘This project will involve a game and animation accompanied by a dedicated website. The aim of the game will be to raise awareness, especially among young people, regarding the risks presented by different types of corruption and the value and rewards of resisting corruption as an investment in long-term personal and societal prosperity’.
After the opening speeches, young people had the opportunity to ask Ambassador Świtalski questions, which opened up dialogue on corruption and ways to combat it.

A working meeting entitled “Possibilities and challenges of establishing an independent institutional system for fighting against corruption in the Republic of Armenia” took place on 15 December 2015 with financial support from the EU and the OSCE Office in Yerevan. Representatives from international organisations, state institutions, civil society from across the country, and the media attended the event.
ARS_0147Ambassador Piotr Antoni Świtalski, the Head of the EU Delegation to Armenia, said he was always happy to take part in events dedicated to fighting corruption: ‘I always gladly accept invitations and I am always ready to speak about the EU’s commitment to fighting corruption. I believe that corruption is one of the most important strategic, systemic, and structural epidemics hampering Armenia’s growth. I am convinced that, by not tackling corruption effectively, Armenia will not be able to move forward in a dynamic way. I am saying this based on the experience of the other countries which have gone through a transformation process, and on my own observations here in Armenia. Therefore, for the EU, assisting Armenia to fight corruption is a natural priority. I believe this meeting is very important, because it brings together civil society, and marks civil society’s role in this process as important. This means not only in putting pressure on the government and state institutions, not only in monitoring and serving as a watchdog, but also serving as a source of intellectual inspiration and mobilisation for public opinion’.
The Armenian Deputy Minister of Justice, Suren Krmoyan, talked on behalf of the Armenian government about anti-corruption achievements: ‘2015 was a very crucial year for Armenia’s fight against corruption. We have managed to form an institutional system and a new board for combating corruption. In cooperation with our partners, we adopted a new anti-corruption strategy, and set up a government-civil society collaboration platform, which allows us to cooperate actively with civil society in the fight against corruption. Very good conditions for the implementation of anti-corruption programmes have recently been formed. One of the main targets of our strategy is to form a joint intolerance towards corruption in Armenia. Each citizen has to take part in this fight’.

The first meeting of the government-civil society anti-corruption working group took place on 23 September 2015 within the framework of the “Multi-faceted anti-corruption promotion” project. The meeting was organised by the Armenian Ministry of Justice, the “Armenian Young Lawyers Association” NGO and its partner “Freedom of Information Centre in Armenia” NGO. The project is co-funded by the EU and the OSCE office in Yerevan.
Representatives from the EU Delegation to Armenia and the OSCE office in Yerevan, informational organisations, the Armenian government, other state and local government bodies, civil society organisations (CSO) and other agencies participated in the event.
ARS_8690The Deputy Head of the Cooperation Section of the EU Delegation, Jose-Maria Medina Navarro, stressed the importance of anti-corruption initiatives during the event: ‘I want to reiterate how supportive the European Union is in pushing through reforms in support of anti-corruption, civil society and other social institutions. One of the reasons behind the support is the commitment that we have taken bilaterally at the latest summit in Riga. No country or region is free from corruption but we can share the experience and support the positive developments. We need to fight against corruption to diminish its role in the society’.
Deputy Minister of the Armenian Ministry of Justice, Suren Krmoyan, reiterated Navarro’s sentiment: ‘Today is a very important day for all of us… First of all, today, after the anti-corruption coalition’s approval of the 2015-2018 Armenian anti-corruption strategy, is the first time we are presenting and discussing the strategy with CSOs. I want to thank all the representatives of the CSOs for their cooperation during the last year and a half. They participated very actively in all the discussions and supported us very much’.
The main goal of the “Multi-faceted anti-corruption promotion” project is to increase the role of CSOs in the promotion and implementation of anti-corruption reforms. The monitoring skills of CSOs and mass media will be enhanced within the framework of the project. Many anti-corruption meetings will be organised in the Armenian regions for CSOs and mass media in order to help them better perceive the problems of corruption and freedom of information.
The goal of the planned events is to increase opportunities for anti-corruption activities. Small grants will be provided to increase the efficiency of public control and the implementation of monitoring, control and investigative projects. Sustainable CSO-government dialogue will be developed in order to strengthen anti-corruption institutional mechanisms.
The duration of the project is 3 years (January 2014-December 2016). The overall budget of the project is €650,000, € 585,000 of which is being provided by the EU.

A workshop titled “Private sector face with current challenges of corruption” took place on 29 July 2015. The event was organised by Transparency International Anticorruption Centre NGO together with the Ministry of Justice of the RA, the workshop is funded by the EU.
During the event, the Economic Governance Advisor of the Cooperation Section of the EU Delegation to Armenia, ARS_4843Alessandro Zanotta, delivered his welcome speech. “EU and Armenia have officially agreed and reiterated that the fight against corruption is one of their priorities. There is no country or region free of corruption, and Armenia is not an exception. EU supports many countries around the world to fight against corruption and we are doing the same here in Armenia. But, to be successful, Armenia needs to show willingness in many areas. The EU advises the Government of Armenia to adopt an Anticorruption Strategy as soon as possible”.
The Deputy Minister of Justice of the RA, Suren Krmoyan, spoke about the importance of the event. “I would like to emphasise that this event was organised by the Armenian Ministry of Justice together with the Transparency International Anticorruption Centre NGO. As for the financing, we are grateful to the European Union. This is the first time today that we speak about such important issues as corruption in the private sector. One of the most important components of the success in the fight against corruption in Armenia is the involvement of the civil society and private sector. We all should understand that the fight against corruption is everybody’s problem and, if we want to have a developed country, this issue should concern each of us”.
After the welcoming speeches, experts on anticorruption did their presentations. Later on, the representatives of the private sector introduced their presentations. They presented their businesses, talked on anti-corruption strategies and shared a number of interesting issues based on their own experience. The audience was informed by the Government that steps have been taken to set up a whistle-blowing protection system in Armenia in line with international principles. The EU provides funds to support the anti-corruption efforts of the government and the civil society organisations.

The launch ceremony of the “Strengthening integrity and combating corruption in higher education in Armenia” project took place on 27 May 2015. The budget of the project is €400,000, provided by the EU under the EU – Council of Europe’s partnership cooperation framework in Eastern Partnership countries for 2015-2017.
The project is aimed at strengthening and combating corruption in higher education institutions by supporting the effective implementation of the Anti-corruption Action Plan 2015-2018 of the Republic of Armenia. The project’s objective is to support the development of prevention and integrity mechanisms for practicing professionals and to increase good governance in the field of higher education in the country.
ARS_0783After the aims of the project were presented, the Head of the EU Delegation to Armenia, Traian Hristea, had his welcome speech. ‘The launch of this project comes right after the European Higher Education Area Ministerial conference, which took place in Yerevan two weeks ago, and also after the Eastern Partnership Summit in Riga. The summit has confirmed the EU’s commitment to supporting Armenia in many areas; education is one of them. This project supports the efficiency of education in the country, and I hope it will bring a brighter future to future generations. Reducing corruption, not only in higher education but also in many other spheres in the country, is a difficult and long journey; let me reassure you that the EU will stand side by side and will always offer support’.
ARS_0798The Armenian government has declared its intention to combat corruption. A new anti-corruption strategy was developed in 2014, concentrating on public health, education, and the police. Higher education has been singled out in this project, as corruption risks are generally more substantial in this part of the education system. The project will focus on a systematic approach and will cover 26 state-owned higher education institutions. The Armenian Deputy Minister of Education and Science, Karine Harutyunyan, talked about Armenia’s position in corruption reports, mentioning that education was reported to accumulate a lot of corruption but that there had been positive changes in recent years.
It is anticipated that the project will increase the awareness of corruption risks, and will develop guidelines and recommendations, including legislative changes and code of ethics for enhancing integrity among major higher education stakeholders.

The “Hakastver” NGO invited guests and journalists to the closing ceremony on 31 March 2015 of the EU-funded project called “Support to the efforts of civil society to establish social dialogue in the sphere of labour and development of trade unions”. The event included a presentation of the “Trade Unions in Armenia Today” brochure, published within the frameworks of the project. This project was focused on the effective enforcement and protection of the employee’s rights. The project was implemented by a local NGO Hakastver. EU Contribution to the project was € 149,297.00 (94.79% of total). . The goal of the programme was to raise awareness on the issue of labour rights of Armenian citizens.
ARS_5543The Head of the “Hakastver” NGO and project manager, Vaga Amirkhanyan, introduced the achievements of the project and made a presentation of the brochure: “A key component of human rights are labour rights. While labour rights are respected in our legislation, they are, however, to put it mildly, barely protected. This is a problem, and it is important to understand the roles of defence and support. We formulated the project goal in this way: firstly we examined trade union movements in Armenia – their situation, problems and public awareness. This was a pilot project of the two-year programme, which consisted of: legislative expertise connected to the trade unions, trade union law, alignment with the European Charter and other international documents, seminars in work teams, electronic media, such as the programmes on H2 TV channel, print media through “The School of Capitalism”, and polling. The results of the polling are introduced in the brochure”.
“Trade Unions in Armenia Today” brochure presented the results of the first poll on the role of the trade unions conducted in Armenia and the legislative changes related to their activities. The group of experts who have worked on the brochure participated in the event.