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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.