Hranush Kharatyan thinks that feeling of
being at a "dead-lock" is
among the reasons for emigration.
A book released earlier this year confirms that
poverty and a pessimistic view of the future are
the leading reasons why citizens leave Armenia.
"There is an opinion that emigration is
a temporary economic solution as the employment
market is not developed in Armenia," says
Hranush Kharatyan, president of "Hazarashen",
the Armenian Center for Ethnological Researches.
Supported by the Open Society Institute, researchers
interviewed more than 100 residents and published
10 of their stories in "Emigration from Armenia".
Research was conducted in several regions, including
Gegharkunik, a high-mountain province with a history
of migrant employment, the Shirak and Lori "disaster
zones", Siunik, one of the regions farthest
from the capital, and in Yerevan.
And while widespread poverty forces many from
their homeland, the research found that emigration
is also rooted in general discontent.
"Many of those who leave the country are
employed people, who have average living standards
in Armenia and more or less normal perspectives
for future," Kharatyan says. "Besides
the lack of jobs, the reasons have deeper roots
like lack of confidence, problems with getting
used to new socioeconomic conditions, legal injustice,
helplessness, hopelessness and feeling of being
at a 'dead-lock'."
Typical of responses, one Yerevan intellectual
told researchers he lived better in Soviet times
and now plans to emigrate because he doesn't believe
there is independence and democracy in Armenia.
A young businessman from the Ararat region, who
sells cement, says if he considered emigrating,
it would be because of unethical officials.
"Every 10 days representatives of the tax
inspection visit me," he is quoted. "Every
time I explain to them that I've already paid
the tax and why must I give money again, what
for? I have all necessary documents. As soon as
they get hungry they visit me so that I take them
somewhere and set a table for them but what for?
They spend in two hours money that we spend during
"Ordinary citizens, who have gotten on to
their feet with great difficulties, always have
to deal with tax laws, illegal relations, which
make them emigrate from Armenia," Kharatyan
The center's research also shows education as
a reason for emigration.
"Abroad, children attend schools and get
good education. When they stay here they don't
normally attend school and we haven't got enough
money to cover school expenses," says a woman
from Gegharkunik. "And when they finish the
school where can they go to continue their study?
From here you can't take care of children if they
are in Yerevan. That's why those who earn money
abroad, if they are a little settled there, come
and take their families for ever."
A Kapan resident says many people emigrated from
Siunik because of schools. "The majority
of teachers prefer working the land and keeping
hens over working in schools as salaries are low.
Where can children continue their study after
school, where can they live? There is only one
Yerevan left and all of us can't find room in
Researches show that Armenia has experienced
three major periods of emigration. The first wave,
in 1992-1993, was mainly conditioned by hardship
of transition, including the energy crisis. Most
who left during that time were from Yerevan and
they mainly left for Russia. A second surge of
emigration took place in 1995-1996, just after
the second presidential and parliamentary elections.
"It surprised us, but during researches
we talked to people and realized that their expectations
hadn't been met. Promises made during elections
arouse hopes in the minds of people and in case
those promises are not fulfilled people get very
disappointed," says Kharatyan.
One of the workers of Shirak region's Head Office
says emigration occurred in Gyumri when promises
that a sugar plant would start functioning again
were not fulfilled.
"There were talks that a textile factory
would start functioning soon but nothing changed,"
says one Gyumri resident. "They lied so much
that people don't believe any more. People think
that whoever comes to power nothing will change
and there is no hope."
Kharatyan says that young people, who possess
craft skills or are educated, and who might help
strengthen Armenia, are among those who emigrate.
The research found that many believe emigration
is advantageous for the standing government, as
it decreases the number of active oppositionists.
Further, when more people emigrate, there is less
competition for jobs.
Kharatyan says that money sent from abroad has
an impact on the internal economy. Many families
solve their urgent problems either with the help
of those who left the country for work or with
the help of their emigrated relatives.
"However the negative influence of emigration
on the economy of Armenia is noticeable. There
are numerous people among emigrated with endurance
and stamina. These people could have been successful
businessmen in the country and could have weakened
monopolization of the economy by being involved
in the competitive field."
According to the president of the center, those,
who have succeeded in business outside the country,
are gradually breaking relations with Armenia
and connecting their plans for the future with
the country where they live.