Dual Citizenship Debate Heats Up in Armenia

YEREVAN (Noyan Tapan)–The debate over Armenian dual citizenship escalated in Armenia Thursday–with representatives of the Armenian Revolutionary Federation and the former ruling party the Armenian National Movement emerging with polarized positions on the matter.

The ARF–long an advocate of dual citizenship–defended the passage of such a law–while the ANM–under whose rule dual citizenship was decried–called the law an infringment on national security.

ARF Executive Council of Armenia vice-president–Armen Rustamian–considered it very important to allow dual citizenship in Armenia and do away with the laws which work against it.

According to Rustamian–this has to do with the "one nation–one homeland" principle and is crucial to bringing all Armenia’s–from all over the world together as co-citizens.

Rustamian admitted that the issue of dual citizenship was a broad one and was going to take a lot of work to achieve–however–this should not impede efforts to do so. Rustamian discredited the idea that there will be legal inequality between those who have dual citizenship and does who do not. This is one of the major argumen’s given by the opponents of dual citizenship.

According to Rustamian–by not giving dual citizenship to Diasporan Armenia’s–the crucial link between Armenia and the Diaspora was threatened.

Armenia’should use all the help–be it economic–social or industrial. By refusing to issue dual citizenship–the government is not putting all its resources into use.

Offering an opposing view–vice-president of the Armenian National Movement–Setrag Hovhanessian stated that dual citizenship compromised Armenia’s national security issues and allowed for foreign forces to intervene in Armenia’s internal life. "Dual citizenship means turning over control of our nation to foreign powers who are only interested in us for their personal economic gains."

According to Hovahnessian it is going to be very difficult legally–to decide exactly who gets dual citizenship–the criteria could not be very clearly defined without discriminating against any group. Trying to decide as to who gets the dual citizenship can make Armenia look like a racist society– Hovhanessian said.

The ANM representative pointed out that the laws pertaining to citizenship limits certain rights from persons without citizenship.

"If Diasporan Armenia’s will be deprived of voting rights and land privileges when they attain dual citizenship–then what privileges will they be deprived of as non-citizens?" questioned Hovhanessian.

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