Statements and messages of the Prime Minister of RA

“No distinction is made between former and incumbent governments in the fight against corruption” - PM attends Fighting Corruption for Sustainable Development Goals conference


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Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan today attended an expert conference, referred to as “Fighting Corruption for Sustainable Development Goals.” The UN has declared December 9 as the International Anticorruption Day that has been celebrated in many countries since 2003.

Greeting the participants of the conference, PM Pashinyan said: “Not long after I was elected Prime Minister of the Republic of Armenia, even days after I was elected, I declared that there was no more systemic corruption in the Republic of Armenia. I would like to reaffirm it today and explain what I mean by saying systemic corruption. In my view, systemic corruption is when every single income in the corruption scheme keeps flowing upwards to some extent and reaches the top of the pyramid.

I am happy and proud to state that, yes, there is no systemic corruption in Armenia. This does not mean that there are no corruption phenomena in the Republic of Armenia, but it is very important to note that there is political will in Armenia to eradicate corruption, not just to fight, but to eradicate it.

With your permission, I would like to share a few thoughts, concerns and facts. During a recent Civic Contract party board meeting, we have repeatedly touched on corruption issues and recorded that even our closest team members and even our closest political friends will not be forgiven should they be engaged in corruption. This is the first important record.

But the second record that we have done and are doing is, as I have stated many times, that corruption sometimes looks quite attractive, pleasing and even seductive, which aggravates the problem. We have recorded at the highest political level that imposing bans and prohibitions on direct corruption in the so-called known and obvious forms does not safeguard anyone against the temptation of being involved in corruption.”

The Head of Government noted that corruption is sometimes built up through beautiful sentences and lack of information. This factor was recently evoked during a working discussion held with Minister of High-Tech Industry Hakob Arshakyan.

“We concluded that there are some, so to speak, strange institutions in the system of public administration, among which “we told you about it,” or “we reported to you, and so on.” For example, there may be times when walking or driving out of the office, someone can walk up to you and whisper something the meaning of which cannot even be understood in the meantime. And when you happen to wonder how a situation came up, the answer might be, “I just told you about it,” or “we warned you about it,” the Prime Minister said, and went on to reflect on the issue of providing more affordable and high-quality products to public administration institutions.

“If anyone says that they want to supply cheaper and higher-quality products, who will naturally say, yes. But then in the bidding process, there may occur surprising processes that can come back later in the form of “We told you about it.” I have also come across such cases when people say, for example, we want to build a school in a village or town as a gift to the State. Who can say no in such an event? But then it may turn out that different corruption claims are set before business entities or government agencies in the context of that donation with the excuse that the Government is aware, and so on.

I mean, in general, sometimes very interesting phenomena can be encountered in the Republic of Armenia in the context of corruption, and in general I am convinced in many other countries as well. I have, for example, recently stated that saluting the Prime Minister is a freely convertible currency. For example, one can say “hello” to the Prime Minister and then hurry to the exchange market and convert his ”hello” into cash money at the earliest opportunity. That is why, my dear fellow countrymen, some restraint can be seen in my greetings and receptions. Over the past 1.5 years of my activity as Prime Minister, I realized that one has to be very careful even in his greetings and receptions first of all to make sure that said freely convertible currency is not put into circulation and then cashed out.

Let me say that I consider myself a politician, a man, an individual genetically incompatible with corruption, but one must always keep in mind that even genetic mutations can theoretically be possible, and there may be individuals or systems striving to get you involved in such genetic mutations, but I am sure you all know that will not happen to me.

Coming to the next important political record, the Prime Minister said: “When we talk about the fight against corruption, it is politically perceived as a fight against the previous corrupt authorities. I consider it important to state that no distinction is being made between former and incumbent governments in the fight against corruption, because it is twice as much unacceptable for me to see the acting officials – the ones I myself have appointed – engaged in corruption schemes.

I hope this is visible to everyone, because over the past 1.5 years 4 high-ranking officials maybe even more, at least 4 high-ranking officials have been charged with corruption, and this process is to be continued. It is simply impossible for us to have any compromise with corruption, and corruption should be eradicated in the Republic of Armenia.

There has been a lot of discussion in connection with my decision to let the ministers, deputy ministers and high-ranking officials get extra remuneration from the bonus funds, which are quite high by Armenian standards, and the comment was that this stemmed from the logic of the ongoing fight against corruption. In fact, in terms of content, this is probably true, but I would like to clarify the situation and apologize to all members of our government and all the officials to whom this decision relates.

The aforementioned wage increases were not carried out in order to prevent corruption, since as we could witness in practice, a corrupt official would not be satisfied with 1.5 million drams. This was done with a completely different consideration, namely that we had no regrets whatsoever in arresting, detaining or convicting those involved in corruption transactions.

I would like to make a couple more accents in connection with the latest events. You know that a few days ago Serzh Sargsyan was charged with corruption. Honestly, I was surprised to see the charge of 400 million drams indicted to Serzh Sargsyan held up to ridicule by many. It seems that some people in the Republic of Armenia think that the fight against corruption should be orchestrated and managed like a concert at the request of viewers. They seem to have expected an application filed to the following effect: “At the request of the Government or the Prime Minister, I suggest that criminal proceedings should be instituted against Serzh Sargsyan within the bounds of 400 million drams.” And after that, the next question arises, why for 400 million drams, and not for, say, 4 billion drams. By the way, to my mind, corruption thinking and this perception of the fight against corruption are interconnected. That is, they have the same origin.”

The Prime Minister next touched on his statement made a few days ago in the National Assembly that the Prime Minister was not stealing a penny from the State budget. According to the Head of Government, this statement should be supplemented by the fact that public spending is still far from boasting 100% efficiency in Armenia, including the costs associated with the activities of the Prime Minister. Nikol Pashinyan noted that although sometimes priority is given to emergency needs that call for a lot of money, the issue of ensuring 100% efficiency in public spending is kept in the spotlight by his team. The Prime Minister stressed that the objective of achieving maximum efficiency even at the level of AMD 1000 is high on the Government’s agenda.

Appreciating the idea of holding a forum on corruption, Nikol Pashinyan thanked all those concerned with the need to curb corruption in Armenia, who never stopped combating it and fought for increased efficiency in public spending and public systems.

“I attach great importance to the work of those institutions, groups, organizations, including the media, and I want to express confidence that the fight against corruption is inevitable today. But our strategic objective should be a little bit different: first of all, we should not create an environment conducive to corruption; instead we should set up institutions to prevent corruption in order to make corruption impossible or almost impossible in our country.

I primarily mean democracy, transparency, the rule of law, freedom of speech, freedom of expression and, of course, the availability of counterbalancing mechanisms and mutual restraint, which is a strategic direction for us. We are ready to cooperate with all interested parties, organizations and forces, and we are confident that we can have a breakthrough in this field,” the Prime Minister concluded.

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