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Why do Armenians not want to live at home

Почему армяне не хотят жить на родине

Last week Armenian writer Levon Khechoyan, of which for literary achievement, President Serzh Sargsyan awarded the medal “For merits before Fatherland” II degree, declined the honour. His action, the writer explained, in particular, being unable to accept the medal, “when emigration to a country reaches such a degree”. The theme of mass migration outside the country has long been exaggerated in Yerevan, but the authorities in most cases just doing the statement of facts, while the Armenians continue to leave the country.

The population of Armenia, an ethnically homogeneous country, according to a census conducted in October 2011, amounted to 3,018 million, 194 thousand less than was recorded the previous census in 2001 (although in mid-2012 Armenian statistics counted in the country is 3.2 million people). However, note that the scale of migration in the 2000s, the years do not go to any comparison with the volume of population outflow, which was observed in the Republic after the collapse of the Soviet Union.


For the first quarter of 2013, according to the National statistical service, through the border checkpoints of Armenia passed 657 thousand, which is almost 125 thousand more than last year. Thus, the negative balance of departures and arrivals of citizens was about 35 thousand people, 10 thousand more than in the same period last year.

Only in modern Armenian history experts identify three phases of emigration: the first wave was caused by the collapse of the USSR and the Karabakh war. In just three years — from 1991 to 1994 — from the Republic has left more than half a million people. The second stage occurred in 1999-2001, when left Armenia about 190 thousand. The third phase began in 2008, as a result of the global economic crisis, and is still ongoing.

Moreover, if, for example, in the case of Uzbekistan, almost a third of the population currently resides abroad, it is exclusively on labour migration with Armenia, the situation is different. As noted in the prepared in 2005, the report of the OSCE office in Yerevan, labour migration continues to remain in the shadows
such a significant (and in scope, and consequences) phenomenon which began in 1990-e years and still ongoing massive outflow of Armenia’s population.


According to Gallup polls in 2010, more than thousands of Armenian citizens, 39 percent of respondents expressed a desire to move to a permanent residence in another country. This figure is the highest among all former Soviet republics (Moldova — 36 percent, Belarus — 20, Kazakhstan and Ukraine — 15 percent). According to others, in 2008, interest in emigration for permanent residence showed 20 percent of the population of Armenia, in 2009 the figure was already 25, and in 2010 — 29 percent.

“We have a huge migration, said in 2011, “Deutsche Welle”, the Director of the Institute of philosophy, sociology and law of the National Academy of Sciences of Armenia Gevorg Poghosyan. — If average global level of migration is about 0.3 percent, while in Armenia this figure exceeds 30 percent.”

Desire of Armenians to life outside of their historical homeland cannot be explained solely by economic factors. For example, according to the International monetary Fund, the growth of Armenia’s GDP in 2013 will amount to 4.5 percent, and in 2014 — 4.1 percent, while the average for CIS countries GDP growth in 2013 will remain at last year’s level of 3.5 percent (in 2014 — 4 percent). Accordingly, the level of unemployment, which last year to 19 percent in the current will drop to 18.5 percent in 2014 to 18 percent. However, according to experts, the rate of emigration is unlikely to somehow affect.

“Among migrating from Armenia people find it hard to find someone who leaves the country for economic reasons,” — said the analyst on regional Affairs, Sargis Hatspanyan. The reason of Exodus, he sees in the “lack of justice and lack of love” that gives a few lyrics. A more prosaic and compelling it seems the existence abroad of a powerful Armenian Diaspora, the most successful representatives of which inspire the countrymen to move to a far country.

Currently, the number of the Armenian Diaspora in the world exceeds the population of Armenia itself at least four times. As they say, “who is ‘Yang’, the Armenians.” Largely due to the murderous policy of the Ottoman Empire in the early twentieth century, the Armenians are firmly settled in the Ukraine, Russia, France, Georgia, USA. And now they go mainly to Russia, USA, Ukraine.

Почему армяне не хотят жить на родине

The Cathedral of St. Vartan in new York

Photo: Beyond My Ken


In 2006, in an interview with Forbes, the Director of the economic development program of the Republic “Armenia 2020” Artashes ghazakhetsyan estimated total amount of capital of the Diaspora in 100 billion dollars. Then the Union of Armenians of Russia estimated the volume of private transfers from Russia to Armenia at $ 1 billion annually (for comparison, the revenues of the state budget in 2013 is planned at $ 2.5 billion).

All in all, the pre-crisis days of Diaspora were transferred to Armenia, according to the magazine “market leader”, to two billion dollars annually, more than 80 percent ensuring the country’s budget. However, as reported by the Central Bank of Armenia, as of 2011, 60 percent of the money came from Russia and only 7 percent of the United States. In this situation, the authorities of the Republic, which can not boast of any mineral or transit attractiveness of its territory (Armenia has no outlet to the sea and surrounded by not the most friendly neighbors), it makes little sense to deal with immigration.

However, many experts lay the blame for the Exodus at the current Armenian leaders and their opponents. “Responsibility in the truest sense of the word lies with the authorities and the political opposition, which continuously reassuring, not mobilized enough to be able to solve any problem,” says ethnographer Hranush Kharatyan. In her view, the continuing flow of immigrants is influenced not only social and political aspects, but also a kind of “problem of justice”. “Our emigration often referred to as national character, but in reality we know from history that the peaks of emigration correspond to the new waves of violence, those who live in our country after its conquest by foreigners: the burden of taxes, fear for life. And all that is present today in our country,” skeptical says Kharatyan. The joint opinion was expressed by the representative of the nationalist party “Dashnaktsutun” Lilit Galstyan, according to which migration is the result of frustration, hopelessness and futility.

The authorities own view of the situation. According to the Prime Minister of the Republic Tigran Sargsyan, a large number of people traveling abroad is due, in particular, the propensity of Armenians to change places. “This reflects the mobility of our people — our citizens can move freely, as this is the most favourable,” claimed the head of the government in 2011. Then, after the publication in The Huffington Post, where it was argued that the outcome of the working population from Armenia “led to the emergence of a new phenomenon of villages inhabited almost solely by women,” the discussion of emigration had acquired the most acute.


And most of those in power tend to explain the situation to economic reasons. “The cause of emigration from Armenia is mainly related to socio-economic problems: low income, lack of jobs and so forth,” — said in 2011, the Minister of territorial administration Vache Terteryan. In turn, as noted by the head of the Department of political science of Yerevan state University Garik Keryan, “being quite hardy and enterprising”, the Armenians are willing to stay in the country, despite the difficult socio-economic situation. “However, there is an interesting trend — most of them left the country because of difficult economic conditions, but because of antipathy to the efficiency of public administration, which leads to distrust of the authorities”, — said the expert.

My two cents on the situation in the neighboring country never misses a chance to insert the Azerbaijani side. Thus, the Chairman of the Public Association “Azerbaijani community of the Nagorno-Karabakh region of the Azerbaijan Republic” Bayram Safarov in his time predicted that in case of preservation of current rates of migration “not only in Karabakh but in Armenia no one will”.

“The weekend I spent in the North of the country, thus, I did not miss an opportunity to few hours to cross the border of Georgia. As a result, I witnessed a rather shocking picture, when hundreds of thousands of Armenians walk left the country. In recent years, emigration had always been, but I’ve never seen,” wrote a month ago on his page in Facebook Deputy of the Armenian Parliament from the opposition “Armenian national Congress” Hrant Bagratyan. Even the MP and exaggerated, but the facts and the numbers are harsh. Armenians continue to leave the country, prelsey high wages, others, more modern, way of life and perspectives. Fortunately, people are everywhere.

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