Azerbaijan advances in Corruption Perceptions Index

Interview of Fuad Alasgarov, head of department for work with law-enforcement bodies of Presidential Administration, member of Commission on Combating Corruption, with AzerTAc

- What measures have been taken to combat corruption in Azerbaijan recently? What achievements have been made on this front?

- Fight against corruption is carried out on a continuous basis in Azerbaijan. If we look at succession of the measures taken in recent years, we`ll see that there is a systematic, complementary mechanism. The approval - by an Order of the President of the Azerbaijan Republic dated September 5, 2012 – of the National Plan of Action on encouragement of Open Government and the National Anti-Corruption Action Plan is one of the recently taken important measures. These documents outlined Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev`s political will to combat corruption, as well as mobilized the resources necessary for the execution of the Action plans. Covering the years 2012-2015, the Action plans are aimed at ensuring the sustainability of anti-corruption and corruption management measures, increasing transparency in the work of public bodies, building modern governance system, and encouraging open government principles.

The work of the Commission on Combating Corruption and Anti-corruption Department under the Prosecutor General - the bodies specializing in combating corruption – was improved, with the scope of their activities expanded. The Commission on Combating Corruption was given the authority to carry out operational and investigative activities, which is crucial on this front. Azerbaijan is a first country in the CIS to put this into practice, and this dramatically increased the effectiveness of the Commission`s work. It`s no coincidence that the Commission was recommended by the Anti-Corruption Network of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development as a model of anti-corruption activity on an international scene. Assessments of the Council of Europe`s Group of States against Corruption (GRECO) as well as an evaluation of Azerbaijan`s implementation of the United Nations Convention against Corruption praised Azerbaijan`s record.
Integrating information and communication technologies in public administration is nowadays one of the effective mechanisms of preventing corruption. Azerbaijan has recently made considerable achievements in this area. The scope of electronic services for the population was enhanced to remove factors causing corruption in the activities of public bodies.

The establishment of ASAN service centers of the State Agency for Services to Citizens and Social Innovations, which serves to minimize the citizen-official points of contact and fosters the transition of this relationship to a qualitatively new level, marked a new stage in public administration. ASAN centers are aimed at ensuring the implementation of 23 services offered by different public bodies to citizens in a more qualitative manner and using latest innovations. This helps citizens feel themselves closer to public bodies, as well as eliminates waste of time and prevents possible negative factors.

- Transparency International released its 2012 Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) yesterday. We would like to know your opinion on the Index.

- The Index is not treated unambiguously by any country, and it should be considered as something relative. The reason is that it is based on surveys, and is subjective. At different times, shortcomings of the Index have been the focus of the reports made and discussions held by academic institutions and research centers. In general, differences between the results of the Index`s assessments and the real situation in the countries have negatively affected the CPI`s image and provoked more criticism in the past years. Transparency International, which produces the CPI, has been officially accepting the criticism and taking steps to improve the Index. This is why the CPI methodology has been changed twice in the past three years. At the same time, there have been cases when the CPI assessments differed, and in some instances, even contrasted those of other international anti-corruption organizations. From this point of view, the Index can by no means be treated as something reflecting the reality.

- And what do you think of the CPI`s evaluation of Azerbaijan`s performance?

- Although Azerbaijan climbed four spots in the CPI this year, the country does not deserve its ranking in the Index given the measures it is taking and the reforms it is carrying out. The Index is far from reality. It was produced using a new methodology, which makes it impossible to compare the performances of the countries in previous years. However, if to compare the countries in terms of their ranking, Azerbaijan advanced four spots in comparison with last year. If last year Azerbaijan ranked 143rd and scored 2.4 points on a scale from 10 to 0, this year`s methodology was calculated on a 100 to 0 scale, giving Azerbaijan 27 points and making it 139th. In general, Azerbaijan has continued to advance in terms of assessments of anti-corruption measures in the past years. The results of the CPI`s assessments of Azerbaijan`s performance sharply differ from those of appropriate agencies of the Council of Europe, the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development, the United Nations. Azerbaijan is strengthening its cooperation with all international organizations on this front, and is applying the best practices. From this viewpoint, we wish that the international organizations would be more objective and flexible in their evaluations. The measures that are being taken by no means depend on these evaluations, but this cooperation is important to us from the perspective of external judgments and international practice.

This year`s Index was made using six sources on Azerbaijan. The sources gave different assessments of the country`s record. For example, the points given by the World Economic Forum, the Bertelsmann Foundation, Economic Intelligence Unit contrast sharply with those of Freedom House and two other organizations. And this has had a negative impact on the Corruption Perceptions Index, which is considered the common denominator of different sources. As a whole, the organizations used by the CPI as sources can be divided into two groups: those specializing in economy, and those in politics. As I have already said, Azerbaijan received high points from the economic sources. As you know, economic indicators are based on objective figures, while the assessments of political organizations are grounded on subjective views.


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