On February 1, the Delegation of the European Union to Armenia officially launched the “Stop the Flow of Corruption” communication campaign.
By Davit Alaverdyan
It was developed in cooperation with the Government of Armenia, anti-corruption experts, representatives of civil society and the private sector. The campaign aims to raise awareness of the negative effects of corruption and highlight the EU’s efforts in support of the fight against corruption in Armenia. It will continue throughout 2017 to bring attention to different aspects of corruption and show how it is being fought in Armenia.
Head of the EU Delegation to Armenia, Ambassador Piotr Switalski wants to make 2017 the year of the fight against corruption.
“We believe that this year will give the opportunity to make a decisive step in the fight against corruption,” he said, welcoming the efforts of the new Armenian Government and civil society, which have led to legal amendments. The Ambassador stressed a number of priorities of the campaign.
Regarding the electoral process in particular, he stressed that, “political corruption is one of our priorities. It is extremely important to speak about the bad practices, which hinder the election process, ahead of the upcoming parliamentary elections. We need to speak about vote buying and electoral fraud that have very negative consequences for Armenia,” the Ambassador said.
The next priority is the importance of disconnecting business from politics. “Political partnerships should not serve business, and vice versa, business people should not enter politics,” the Ambassador stressed.
According to him, the goal of the campaign is to introduce the fight against corruption widely in society, with the success of the initiative mainly depending on the response of common people. He calls on Armenian citizens to display zero tolerance towards any case of corruption.
The campaign will explain to the Armenian public through comprehensible tools – animated films, videos, leaflets – what evils corruption brings and how it can damage society.
The Ambassador attached importance to the fact that Armenia’s new Government has placed the fight against corruption among its priorities and is making significant efforts in forming a new institutional and constitutional framework and introducing new systems in the fight against corruption.
President of the Armenian Lawyers’ Association Karen Zadoyan also thinks that the fight against corruption has acquired a significant momentum recently. According to him, the results will become visible within a year and a half or two years, and as soon as next year in the graphs of international agencies.
Zadoyan’s organisation presented to the government six suggestions for making the fight against corruption more efficient:
- Criminalisation of illicit enrichment,
- Foundation of an independent anti-corruption agency,
- Adoption of a regulation on protection of informers,
- Launch of a centre for the fight against departmental corruption,
- Introduction of the institute of real owners,
- Disclosure and solution of corruption issues in business sector in the Government – NGOs – business associations format.
The draft law on criminalisation of illicit enrichment had already been signed by the President of Armenia and will come into force on July 1. As for the creation of an independent anti-corruption agency, the Armenian Ministry of Justice formed a working group to define the final approach.
Zadoyan stressed that the near future will see development of a digital platform where citizens can report corruption cases. He attached importance to the protection of these people’ rights and suggested to prepare a corresponding law, which will establish a mechanism of legal protection for informers of corruption crimes.
Other suggestions are in the stage of preliminary discussions now.
In turn, the Deputy Minister of Justice of Armenia, Suren Krmoyan believes that it is important to use human potential and a range of innovative tools in order to make the fight against corruption efficient.
“Digital tools allow forming transparency, efficiency, and a participation governance system. That is what we want to achieve,” he noted.
The Deputy Minister brands as progress the fact that a digital registration system was introduced in state-citizen relations in a number of sectors – registration of notary and civil acts, etc., which reduced paperwork. Another digital system, this one for licence journals, is being introduced now in the business sector.
According to the Deputy Minister, the Government will be consistent in the fight against corruption. It has already criminalised illicit enrichment, set the rates of cash circulation for high-ranking officials, and established legislative mechanisms for disclosure of real owners of companies winning public tenders.
By now, the EU has already spent EUR 15 million on the support for fight against corruption in Armenia and is ready to continue its support with the condition of seeing clear signs from the Government and civil society that the fight is serious. The newly launched “Stop the Flow of Corruption” communication campaign is one of the primary means to promote intolerance towards corruption.