40,000 Left Armenia in 2017; Sarkisian Wants Them All to Come Back in 2018

Citizens of Armenia flock to the departure terminal at Zvartnots International Airport in Yerevan
Citizens of Armenia flock to the departure terminal at Zvartnots International Airport in Yerevan

Citizens of Armenia flock to the departure terminal at Zvartnots International Airport in Yerevan

BY ARA KHACHATOURIAN

‘Tis the season for good tidings for the new year.

As has been customary, the leadership of Armenia, including President Serzh Sarkisian and Prime Minister Karen Karapetyan, congratulated the people of Armenia on the new year holiday and both pledged a more prosperous country in the coming year. The catch, if you will, is that both are relying on the citizens of Armenia to band together to ensure the promised prosperity.

On Friday, December 29, the demographer Ruben Yeganyan shared a different, a bleaker, outlook for Armenia in the coming year when he provided an analysis of his research that indicated that in 2017 some 40,000 Armenians had left the country for better opportunities elsewhere. This figure is a 2.5 percent increase from 2016, when 37,500 people left Armenia, according to statistics, for a grand total of 77,500 in two years.

“According to our research data, in the past three to four years, more than 35 percent of households [in Armenia] participated in migration processes,” explained Yeganyan. “In the past three to four years, 12 percent of the [country’s] population participated in migration processes.”

He also predicted that the birth rate in Armenia would drop in 2018 due to the low number of people born in the 1990’s in Armenia.

Yeganyan said that external factors, such as Armenia’s further integrations in the Eurasian Economic Union have provided more attractive employment opportunities outside of Armenia.

Only two days after these stark revelations, President Sarkisian issued his annual New Year message, in which he asserted a rosier outlook based on the successful achievements of 2017.

“We are going to get our fellow countrymen back to Armenia. They will be back seeing that a great deal of work has to be done in Homeland. The chief objective of our work is to open up new horizons and opportunities, provide a wider field of activity for each Armenian citizen,” said Sarkisian.

Similarly, Prime Minister Karapetyan, in his New Year address, challenged all citizens to come together for a better—more prosperous—future for Armenia.

“Armenia is to be a reasonable and prosperous country, optimistic and confident about the future… Every one of us can take a share in that nationwide drive for strengthening [of Armenia]… We can develop our country together and, as a result, have a powerful, equitable, well-developed and prosperous Armenia strong with ever-growing and happy population,” pledged Karapetyan.

These pledges and optimistic promises of people holding hands for a more prosperous Armenia come on the heels of a new budget approved last month that envisions no wage increases but guarantees higher inflation—price hikes—which was infamously characterized by a ruling Republican Party of Armenia lawmaker as having not impact on the poor, because “the poor don’t have money.”

What Sarkisian and Karapetyan did not pledge in their New Year addresses was a personal commitment to clean house, also known as telling their colleagues in the Republican Party of Armenia to treat the population with more respect and to stop looting the country’s wealth and lining their pockets.

In an ideal world, a president facing such daunting demographic and socio-economic challenges would challenge his uber-wealthy colleagues and fellow party members to perhaps return what they have stolen from the national coffers and create a more equitable playing field for the entire population of the country.

Or else, how will Sarkisian achieve his desired Kumbaya moment, where everyone returns to Armenia without guarantees of security and social justice? Moreover, how will his goal of increasing Armenia’s population to 4 million by 2020 be realized?

The obligatory optimistic New Year greetings must contain at least a hint of an honest assessment of challenges facing the county so that people can heed those calls for collective participation in the betterment of the system. Without it, it’s just another signal for people to pack up and leave.

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15 Comments

  1. GARO said:

    Diasporan Armenians like me and you are equally responsible for the awful situation in Armenia today, because we have been turning a blind eye to all the looting of the nation for years. Our people have been reduced to such a low level that 20,000 dram is enough to buy their vote. I was at the elections and i can tell you many no longer care and just want to leave for a better life. The next time Serj Sarkissyan comes to the

  2. GARO said:

    Diasporan Armenians like me and you are equally responsible for the awful situation in Armenia today because we have been turning a blind eye to all the looting of the nation for years. Our people have been reduced to such a low level that 20,000 dram is enough to buy their vote. I was at the elections and i can tell you many no longer care and just want to leave for a better life. The next time Serj Sarkissyan comes to the US dont go and quietly stand, let him know that his and his partys behaviour is unacceptable. if you dont this cycle of corruption, vote buying and looting of the nation wealth will continue.

  3. GB said:

    Mr President, just let people govern the country and get rid of corrupt oligarchs!

  4. serop said:

    PM Karapetyan & Sargissyan would do well to firstly purge their ranks of corrupt ministers who are mostly leaders of crime syndicates
    Karapetyan even handed a diplomatic passport to a well known leader of crime syndicate in known as Robson (nick name) in Russia
    Armenia is doomed unless a popular uprising rids these vermins & leeches from power and we get true democracy, otherwise we are not much different from Azerbaijan in terms of corruption & lack of true domocracy
    Takem ed davajanerieh eresin vor noren mer Hayeneikeh eghav irentz andznakan gandzaraneh.

  5. joe said:

    In reality Sarkisian can care less. Its less mouths to feed. And more for him and friends.

  6. Hamo Yedgarian said:

    Government of my dear beautiful Armenian please let the corruption to immigrate and not the desperate Armenians whom have to hear to your promises while you are looking offter number one.

  7. Ben Arslanian said:

    Free elections,independent judiciary,evolvement
    Of political personnel,checks and balances, what it counts is deeds and not sweet words, abolishing nepotism & graft for all government related officials, transparency, free trade, entice Armenians and foreigners to invest in the country
    And I m sure it will work.

  8. Արմենակ Եղիայեան said:

    Խաչատուրեանը,— եւ իր հետ Եկանեան կոչուած խլուրդը,— տակաւին պէտք է յստակացնէ, թէ ուրկէ՞ քաղած է իր տեղեկութիւնները եւ ինչպէ՞ս հասած է այս եզրակացութեւն: Շատ ու շատ երկիրներ ալ գաղլթականոիւթիւն ունին:
    Այդ մեկնոներուն մեծ մասը կրնար պարկեշտ կեանք մը վարել Հայաստանի մէջ, եթէ յօժարէր այնտեղ ենել այն բոլոր գործերը, որ արտասահմանի մէջ կը կատարէ:

  9. ARET said:

    The real problem is not the government of Armenia although it is a common refrain among academics. Armenia cannot prosper without all out war with our neighbors, the government knows this and is taking current actions, prosperity can only come when the problems in entire region( Azeri, Turk, Georgia) are properly dealt with, this of course has a negative impact on investments and middle class prosperity.
    Once that passes, Armenia needs a free and non globalized, pro Armenian BANKING system that would allow the middle class to grow. We must resist the historical Soviet socialist propensities again it takes time.

  10. D2 said:

    It’s true we have had problems and we will have problems. Armenia and diaspora have done and able to do more, Unfortunately we haven’t had national governments for the good of the COUNTRY and PEOPLE.All three regimes are equally at fault, besides not helping to look after the people what have they done for the country besides lined their pockets.They unlawfully grabbed the reins to care for their loot, why do you think they keep a police force of 22,000+ to safeguard their loot.Even Kirk Krikorian had to have his own committee to look after his help in Armenia.

    Karen Karapetyan speaks well, BUT ACTION SPEAKS LOUDER THAN WORDS if Serj Sarkissian steps down in April 2018 Homeland diaspora will do better. Armenia diasphora is willing and able to do a lot more. Those talanchies will not let go they are on an easy LOOT.

    THE FISH ROTTS FROM THE HEAD. ՁՈՒԿԸ ԳԼԽՒՑ Է ՀՈՏԱԾ Other wise the Armenian nation can and will do much better, even with that small span of hilly patch. Thank you Ara, we all have to be more vocal and forcefull.

    LONG LIVE THE RESILENT ARMENIAN NATION.

  11. Robert Davidian said:

    Sure, Serzhik! Millions will come back! As soon as you and your mafia are brought to justice and forced to return the money you’ve stolen! When rule of law comes to Armenia so will millions of diasporan Armenians.

  12. keyser soze said:

    The writing was on the wall when Eastern Armenians voted to exclude Western Armenians of the Diaspora from voting in their elections.

  13. Vahram said:

    Mr president Serj Sarkissian, what a wonderful gesture from you to want your citizens who left the country, to come back. Wouldn’t it have been better Mr. president had those 40,000 last year and 37,500 in 2016 and many more before did not leave in the first place. Wouldn’t it have been better if you and our government of Armenia had provided those people with jobs, social security, safety, trust, justice, so that these workforce had stayed behind and supported their fatherland. In the past 26 years Armenia could have been the paradise on earth, with its natural wealth, assets and resources which had been looted by the oligarchs. OK the catastrophe is done and now let us think of some remedy, a repair to the damage. Your wanting them back is a good start, a good gesture, is that all? On what grounds you expect them to return, what kind of assurances, job security, lodgings you are promising and guaranteeing to fulfill their demands. You should be very naive and them to be very stupid to return based on just your wish and nice gesture. On just empty words (parole, parole). Come on show some initiative, protect their civil rights as armenian citizens, show some real action, secure their families future, only then you might win their thrust back, and they may get motivated, and return to their homeland. I Love Armenia, my heart bleeds seeing what is happening to her.

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