RA Prime Minister was on official visit to Belgium on June 3-5, where he visited Center for European Political Studies (CEPS). He took questions from Turkish and Azerbaijani political analysts, journalists and political scientists. Two corruption-related questions were asked.
Question – Mr Prime Minister what are Armenia’s current peculiarities of fight against corruption. Why is success necessary right now?
PM Tigran Sargsyan – We have chosen a very simple strategy. We need to target the important goals that will lead to success in fight against corruption. Measures are not numerous but efficient. We start the fight against corruption from above. We have targeted 500 high-rank public officials and if they act in public manner, if society oversights them, their income is under scrutiny, it will significantly decrease corruption risks. In addition, this will eliminate the desire of businessmen to pursue these offices. Despite many challenges, with the persistence of the RA President, we got this law adopted by the National Assembly. This year the ethics commission was first created, which will control the financial reports of public officials. Today al government members, 131 MPs, judges and prosecutors submits their financial reports and asset statements. The commission is expected to respond to any concern raised by public. Noteworthily, these 500 public officials and the data on them will be available online. I believe the best way to fight corruption is publicity.
This is one of the examples of why we are succeeding. Our talk needs to match our walk and we expect heated debate over the 500 officials incomes.
In addition, we have made transparent reports by large companies and citizens have a chance to monitor their incomes.
For the first time, we have obliged large companies to submit their reports based on independent audit. It also enables to control the state an to what extent the big company is brought to the taxation field. Today the public asks how the rich businessmen do charity and whether it’s based on tax evasion. Note that there are 20 international audit companies in Armenia, 7 of which are largest in the world.
Question – Mr Prime Minister, the Georgian example of fight against corruption is well known. Why isn’t Armenia replicating it?
RA Prime Minister Tigran Sargsyan – The answer is quite simple. It’s because Armenia reject the revolutionary method of change. It is a more long-term road but secures stability which is a priority for us, given our tense relationship with the neighbour. We always estimate our internal capacity in implementing a reform. The geopolitical situation reduces that capacity. This is why we have a more long-term strategy and perhaps a more painful one. Our country’s problem is that we have a small layer of the wealthy and a large layer of the poor. And the leading power of a society is the middle class which is weak now. So we intend to get the wealthy layer under control, make them transparent to the society and create conditions for small and medium business to prosper, which we believe is the best anti-poverty strategy.