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EMIGRATING ARMENIA

Karen Tovmasyan

According to the official body of the government Migration National Service, only 10-25 000 people leave the country each year. At the same time another government body Civil Aviation Committee states, that 40. 000 people leave the country without returning only by air. Using the Georgian transit is also one of the main ways of emigration, especially for people who prefer to get to the Russian Federation by bus or car, also many people use Tbilisi international airports because of cheaper price of the tickets.

To understand which are the age, and other parameters of the people leaving Armenia, the government has financed "Amberd" research center to conduct a research on this issue.

As many as 80,000-100 000 people leave Armenia every year. Zoya Tadevosian, a doctor of economic sciences and professor at Yerevan State Economic University, who is leading Amberd’s monitoring group, says: "The majority of the emigrants are 30-45 years old; 63.6 % of emigrants have a higher education, which means the country is losing important human resources.

“Most of them emigrate to Russia (68.6%). There are several reasons. First, Armenians do not need a visa to get to Russia. Second, we have a very big Diaspora in Russia (nearly 3.5 million), and the Diaspora is helping the emigrants to get employed. The third reason is that most of the emigrants know Russian language very well and they are familiar with the Russian culture.

 “As for the other emigrants, 13.5% prefer to leave for Europe, 13.5% leave for US or Canada, and the other 5.1% elsewhere in the world.”

Aram Manukian, vice-president of the Armenian National Congress parliamentary fraction (the largest opposition fraction),  who has been researching the emigration tendencies for many years already, says. "According to the International Organization for Migration since 1998 in 45 countries of the world nearly 770 000 Armenian emigrants have applied for a permanent resident status. They are still of Armenian citizens and are holding Armenian passports .They all are legal immigrants as illegal immigrants do not register anywhere. Mr. Manukyan says, that along with the low birth rate this issue is a great problem. "In 30% of schools there are not less then 100 pupils, according to the official data there are only 350 000 pupils in Armenia, while 15 years ago at they were 600 000.  

During the Facebook interviews some of them shared their emigration experience and  their personal reasons for emigration.

Vardan Hovsepian, a 35 years old guy from Armenia, with two MA who has moved to Russia in 2008  and is leading a German based company producing building materials says  "I couldn't stay in Armenia anymore, I couldn't forgive me loosing my best years in vain. I couldn't create my own family with my 150 000 drams salary (370$). When I did my PhD in Armenia I couldnt find any job by my profession, I moved to Moscow, and during the first years I was trading in the market but latter I could find a job according to my profession and now I have a good job and salary and my own family. I also help my parents who live in Armenia. I miss Armenia very much, but I don't see any hope for change, or any conditions there to come back, to re-establish there again"-

Another emigrant Hovhannes who asked not to publish his surname says he emigrated from Armenia  because of political persecutions against him and his family. Hovhaness was opposition activist and got huge problems because of his opposition activities. He was fired from his job and could not find a job for a long period. He says nobody was risking to hire him, as they knew that they can have problems with the authorities if they hire him. Two years ago he won a Green Card and moved to his relatives living in US and now he is working in a company owned by his cousin but is looking for a better job in Los Angeles.

A 45 years old Garik Nersisyan who was a successful businessman in Armenia left to Spain 3 years ago. He says that even he had good living conditions in Armenia the day came when he decided to leave the country forever. He says that some powerful people were interested in his business and he felt unsecure and the high corruption and dependent juridical system were creating additional risks for him and his family. He sold his business and house and moved to Spain and now he has opened his business in Barcelona and he say that even if he is a foreigner.