Action Urged in Armenia Emigration

Hranush Hakopyan thinks migration is temporary

Armenia’s Diaspora Minister, Hranush Hakopyan thinks the migration problem is temporary.

YEREVAN (RFE/RL)—A group of Armenian scholars has addressed an open letter to the country’s political leadership urging immediate action on emigration that they claim is “turning into a national catastrophe.”

Deputy director of the Yerevan-based Institute of Literature Vardan Devrikian, one of those supporting the claim, sees a snowballing panicky mood among people, which he describes as even more alarming than the scale of emigration itself.

“We are all in a panicky mood. Everyone is thinking of ways to leave. Working-class Armenians are thinking of going to Russia, whereas the white-collar segment of the population is contemplating emigration to Europe or the United States. This will, indeed, devastate our country,” Devrikian claimed at a press conference on Monday.

According to the scholar, the president should personally attend to this matter and in response to the open letter should appeal to the people, emphasizing that “we see the future of our people in our country.”

Meanwhile, ethnographer Harutiun Marutian believes that appeals alone will not reverse the trend.

“It would be very nice if the president said that, but it needs to be followed up with certain steps,” said Marutian, without elaborating.

Armenian Writers Union Chairman Levon Ananian, leading ethnographer Hranush Kharatian, head of the Association “For Sustainable Human Development” NGO Karine Danielian and others in their public remarks last week also voiced their concerns about emigration looming large in the country.

Speaking at a press conference on Wednesday, Hranush Hakobian, the minister for the Diaspora, acknowledged that for the first time in at least the past three years Armenia has been losing some of its population because of emigration.

The official attributed it mainly to the heavy social and economic conditions that some Armenians face in their home country. Still, she expressed the opinion that most Armenians leaving the country, especially those going to Russia, were temporary migrant workers who planned to return home in the future.

“They leave Armenia not forever; they seek jobs to maintain their families that stay here,” said Hakobian.

At the same time, Hakobian suggested that critics of the Armenian government, especially those living abroad, should take practical steps to assist in solving social and economic problems in Armenia, such as through investing and creating jobs.

“It is simply necessary to work to reduce emigration,” stressed Hakobian. “Our objective is to boost immigration, and today we also see tendencies of people coming to Armenia for permanent residence.”

The first wave of emigration hit Armenia after the country became independent in the early 1990s and was experiencing a severe energy crisis amid a continuing war in Nagorno-Karabakh. Some 800,000 of Armenia’s estimated 3.8-million-strong population are believed to have abandoned the country then. Although at a slower pace, but emigration continued also through the years of economic recovery when Armenia enjoyed a double-digit GDP growth for most of the 2000s.

Recent official figures reported in Armenia indicate that about 78,000 people have emigrated from Armenia in the past three years, but the opposition and some media have speculated that the number of people who have abandoned the country for good in the indicated period may be reaching several hundred thousand.

Addressing the issue in May, head of the State Migration Service Gagik Yeganian said Armenia experienced no increase in the negative balance of migration in recent years.

Armenia is due to have a census of the population later this year. The previous census taken in 2001 estimated the South Caucasus state’s permanent population at around 3.2 million.

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7 Comments

  1. Manvel said:

    This is a serious legitimate concern for our Armenian Nation. We can not have a thriving healthy society if the population of Armenia continues to dwindle. This is the continuation of the Genocide and we need to stop this negative phenomenon. We need a new NON CORRUPT government with an active REAL Diaspora Representative. Lets look at Israel and learn how to build a nation out of the sand. Israel can offer us alot of examples on how to attract your people to your country. I am proud of Israel for becoming the powerhouse it is. We as a Nation have a similar potential. If we use our resources and potential we can make Armenia a strong Independant Nation. Otherwise 75 years from Now Turkey will be 125 million , Azeris will be about 25 million and Armenia max will be 1.5 million. Lets do something about this problem Now.

  2. Norin Radd said:

    “Hakobian suggested that critics of the Armenian government, especially those living abroad, should take practical steps to assist in solving social and economic problems in Armenia, such as through investing and creating jobs.”

    Ms. Hakobian forgets that when Diasporans actually starting taking steps toward investing in Armenia they quickly run out of money on the way to their goal after being forced to give “bribes” or as natives call it in Armenia “Naloks” to the local officials and local “chiefs”. There is always some primitive ape moron with a hand extended stating “this is my block, pay tribute” to local businesses. Corruption has been allowed to be become so rampant that simply wanting to file even the most trivial paperwork for any sort of reason must involve under the table dealings starting from the lowly desk clerk at the door all the way up to the municipal officials, mayors, etc.

    Ms. Hakobian talks as if Diasporans from Iran, Lebanon, and other communities have not TRIED to settle in Armenia. Many tried immediately after independence, even bringing with them investment ideas, they soon were met with thievery, swindling, hamstringing, along with every other type of uncivilized trickery. Once they were milked dry, the authorities looked the other way, and the Diasporan that would have potentially created a few jobs with his small business was back on a plane to his community abroad spreading the news of “stay away from Armenia, they will take your last nickel and ship you off”.

    Where are our beloved Oligarchs in all of this? They certainly have bled the last drop of blood from the people with their “capitalistic” monopoly businesses, where is their responsibility in all of this? I’m amazed that the Diaspora is quickly held accountable but these fat pig misbegotten Oligarchs are brushed off as inconsequential with regards to the present situation. Line of all of these crooked sons of donkeys along a wall and grind them down with bullets, then you will see Armenia flourish like never before with the Diaspora behind it.

  3. Samuel said:

    Armenia’s problem is lacking the rull of law & social justice, which has been stolen, combined probably with imperfect costitution, the country rulled on the hands of incmpetent groups & leading to its destruction .
    In such senario, the Artsakhi people will become the 1st victim & then Armenia,s proper will be targeted.
    Let us say SS picked up as president, with vote fraud & scandal & his chalenger LTP in the mision of dividing, grouping & corrupting armenian people, for self interest agenda, just for power & money control.
    Armenians need educated leaders, understand daily life requirments,justice, management, communication with their own people & proper representation of themeselves with forign reps.
    Diaspora armenians always have been on the sides of their Armenia’s people, especialy on 1988 earthquake
    deasaster &after Armenia gains its independents, but Armenia never had a democratic government, because armrnian governing leadership has been manipulated & managed from outside & by non armenians.

  4. Armenia_On_Suicide_Watch said:

    I am a Non Armenian European who has invested in Armenia for the 3 years and I spend about 6 months a year in Armenia. I say with great sadness that Armenia is going nowhere and is probably doomed. Armenia is like a large home for the elderly with a tiny “managerial” elite (that consequently has no management skills let alone morals). The youth are mostly reliant on remittances from abroad (hence the popularity of money transfer venues in even the the most remote places). The fault is not only with the oligarchic elite – it is with the diaspora of 5 million Armenians who hold only one “sacred” agenda and that is their communal hatred of the “boogey man” Turk… Diasporan Armenians are not really interested in Nation Building. If they were they would channel the hundreds of millions of dollars they spend annualy on genocide conferences and petition commercials to building factories and tourist resorts in Armenia. I travel and work in emerging economies in Asia like The Philippines and Indonesia and I will tell you bluntly: Armenia is the least globalized and probably poorer than most if not all of Asian countries when it comes to standard of living because the cost of food in Armenia is double to triple anywhere else – around 80% of Armenians in Armenia happen to spend the bulk of their income on food… The most lamentable aspect of living in Armenia is hearing the defiant and totally-out-of-touch people ignore the geo-strategic predicament Armenia is in and oppose any peaceful settlement to the karabakh conflict. People seem to think that the world stood still since 1988 and that Armenia is in no danger. the lack of pragmatism is astounding. I have never seen a people play Russian Roulette with the existence and continuity of their Nation. It is not only totally irresponsible towards future generations but also an insult to other Europeans who are fond of Armenia and who have greatly benefitted from its ancient and remarkable history and culture and wouldn’t want to see it dissapear in our lifetime.

  5. Andy said:

    I’m American Armenian with sucsesful buisness in America for 35 years, in 2006 I went and opened a small branch in Armenia, with initial 1 milion dollor investment, afther 5 years I lost the million dollor closed shop and returned back to USA, not because the people working for me were lasey, or we did not have buisness strategy, in fact 90 per cent of our production were exported to Russia, but by the time we gave kick back to every official we encountered, our product was priced out of the market, inestad of the product saying made in Armenia, the Russians could buy made in Italy at the same price, I have met Ms. Hagopian in her office and told her about this problem we are facing, her answer to me was she could do nothing to help me, this is a problem in Armenia, that sooner or later will be solved, in the meantime we lost acounts in Russia to the Italians, One other thing try to import almonds for example from Iran to Armenia, a friend I met in Armenia tried, but Lefic Samo kept his container at the border for such a long time, until the poor guy had to dump it as trash, by the time he got the OK to enter the goods to Armenia took 21 days by than the almonds were trash, my message to Ms. Hagopian is before you make any statments about others, clean your house first.

  6. Boghos said:

    Abris, Norin. Imagine what could be possible if some of our gifted, dynamic, non-corrupt diasporans could replace Hranoush Hakobian and her ilk, including putative Armenian diplomats around the globe where Armenian Embassies actually promoted Armenia to the world? So many diasporans have invested life savings into relocating to Armenia and/or initiating projects — without expecting recognition or thanks (not that it would be forthcoming) — only to be robbed by their own. Contrary to what Hakobian and others believe about perceived diasporan wealth, many diasporan Armenians still live paycheck to paycheck! I’m sure it’s hardly conceivable to Hakobian & Co that orphaned children of genocide victims, in their devastation, still managed to build community centers from the ground up in the diaspora nurtured by their own hayaseroutiun, determination and fighting spirit. The spiurk has sacrificed for our nation and have continually been chided and even punished for it by our yeghpayrs in the yergir!

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