Caucasus Corruption Levels: Is Azerbaijan the One to Watch?
Caucasus Corruption Levels: Is Azerbaijan the One to Watch? –
The results for Azerbaijan proved the big surprise from the South Caucasus in this year’s Global Corruption Barometer by anti-corruption watchdog Transparency International.*
Though Azerbaijan is repeatedly rated and berated as the region’s most corrupt country, many of the 1,001 Azerbaijanis surveyed for the poll by the Baku-based SIAR (Social and Marketing Research Company) had a more positive assessment of their national corruption situation than did respondents for neighboring Armenia and Georgia.
Azerbaijan long has had run-ins with allegations that senior officials and members of President Ilham Aliyev’s family are cashing in on their positions, but, apparently, most respondents believe the government now is giving the corruption fight all it’s got. Sixty-eight percent of respondents deemed the government’s actions “effective,” a rate which topped Georgia, often described as the region’s main corruption-buster, by 14-percentage points.
On perceptions of corruption in the public sector, Azerbaijan finished a half point behind Georgia, roughly mid-range on a scale of one to five, while Armenia settled firmly into the trouble zone at 4.4.
Similarly, both in Azerbaijan and Georgia, public perception of corruption of political parties was 28 percent of respondents, according to Transparency International (TI). The rate is noticeably higher in Armenia, at 57 percent.
Azerbaijani respondents were also the least critical of their essentially single-party parliament than Georgians and Armenians of their multi-party legislatures. Based on the TI survey, Azerbaijani respondents also have the least reason to complain about corruption in the media, an unexpected result for a country repeatedly criticized by both domestic and international press-freedom monitors for muzzling media.
At the same time, though, results for some potentially telling questions were omitted. No answers were provided for the query “To what extent is this country’s government run by a few big entities acting in their own best interests?” Nor was feedback given for respondent identification of public services to which they had paid a bribe in the past year and the usual reason for the bribe/s.
Reasons for these gaps in the survey, performed via computer-assisted telephone interviews, were not provided.
Needless to say, Azerbaijani officials already are taking bows for the results. And promise even more anti-corruption wonders after this October’s presidential election.