elections are you talking about when I am the
only member of our family staying in Armenia,"
says Nina, a Goris pensioner who like many relatives
of the dispersed, doesn't know when her children
and grandchildren will return.
Social and economic problems have separated families
throughout Armenia, as thousands have gone abroad
in hopes of finding employment.
But when Armenians choose their President next
Wednesday, even those who have left the country
will have a chance to vote.
Any citizen of Armenia can vote by presenting
even a former Soviet Union passport and registering
at an appointed polling station.
"Even those citizens who illegally left
Armenia can participate in this year's Presidential
elections," says Dzunik Aghajanyan, press
secretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
There were 36 precincts (polling stations) established
in 34 cities for citizens living outside Armenia.
Taking into account that there are big Armenian
communities in Los Angeles and Moscow there were
two polling stations established in each of those
"Polling stations can be established only
in the cities where Armenia has either embassy
or consulate," says Aghajanyan, "they
can get the whole information about candidates
from the Armenian representations in the country
as well as from Internet."
The most pressing issues for the Armenian citizens
residing abroad are employment and dual citizenship.
However, introduction of dual citizenship depends
not only on the President, but also on changes
in the Constitution, which, according to the law
can be made only through referendum.
About 15,000 citizens living abroad voted in
the last Presidential elections, a low number
considering the vast number of citizens who have
left the country. One main reason for not participating
is remote polling stations.
Paitsar Galstyan, who lives in Belgium, says
she will not vote even though she wants to, but
doing so would mean a five to six hour trip to
"Of course, we don't think it is realistic
that Armenians residing in Siberia will put all
things to do aside, will spent money to come to
Moscow for voting. But we also cannot open polling
stations in all the cities of the world,"
According to National Statistics Service's data
about 700,000 Armenians left Armenia in the past
10 years. But as to the "Sociometer"
independent sociological center's information
the migration rate is much higher, about 1.5 million.
Independent sociological center "Sociometer"
conducted research starting from October 2002
till January and found out that only 10 to 11
percent of Yerevan residents plan to emigrate.
"This figure is very optimistic, as far
as 10 years ago 80 percent of the population hoped
to live and work abroad, "says Aharon Adibekyan,
director of the center.
The main reason for emigration is unemployment,
and while there are few reasons for emigration
they have numerous consequences.
Marianna, who lives in Colorado, says she wishes
to see conditions in Armenia change, rather than
setting up means for those abroad to participate
"The terrible migration rates have to be
reduced," she says, "not by making airplane
tickets more expensive and refusing applications
in the embassies. Instead favorable conditions
for the population have to be set up."
But Armine Abroyan, who now lives in Germany,
says she will take advantage of her right, even
though she no longer lives at home.
"To vote in elections is our duty to our
country, which we have to implement without fail,"