One of the most talked about and important issues, both, in Armenia and Diaspora, is the out-migration from Armenia to Russia, North America, Europe, etc. It started immediately after the collapse of the Soviet Union and still continuing with a lesser degree. Both the seasonal, and permanent out-migrants are trying to help their extended family members in Armenia with monetary remittances that so far has been quite substantial and it helps stimulate Armenia’s consumer market.
No need to get in details and highlight the obvious, that is, the political and economic harm, and the security threat, that the out-migration causes to Armenia. The important issue is to find solutions and minimize that harmful effects.
To start with, we have to accept the fact that, the cause of the out-migration (like all other countries) are mainly, for the out-migrants to attain better living standards for themselves, and their loved ones, and they have every right to do so and nobody could, or should try to stop them, and specially we should stop preaching them patriotism. We must stop blaming them and concentrate on finding solutions for the problem.
Without minimizing the harmful effects of the out-migration, let us not forget that, for centuries, at least for over 6 centuries, we have been a people of out-migrants “Թափարական Հայ” even from our own ancestral homelands towards Bolis, Tiflis, Baku, Moscow, St.Pittsburgh etc, at the cost of becoming a minority in our own ancestral lands.
Maybe here it is appropriate to mention that one of our most prominent and progressive novelist, Raffi, wrote about this issue in a series of articles in Mshag newspaper in Tiflis in 1877 titled, Turkish Armenians “Տաճկահայք”. Published in a book format in Tehran in 1983.
At the time, he criticized the Patriarchate of Bolis, then, and still, the head of the Armenian people (Millet) in Turkey, for ignoring the plight of the rural Armenians who were fleeing their hometowns and specially villages to avoid the atrocities of a brutal Kurdish tribes for safe havens in foreign lands and cities like Bolis, Izmire, Bursa etc.
Here I translate specially the following “does the Patriarchate ever think why the 45 thousand, Vanetsi, Mshetsi, and other porters “Համպալները” are leaving their ancestral hometowns and are living in dirty shacks in Bolis and never returning home?”. Yes in 1877, and 45 thousand Armenian “hambals” and only, in city of Bolis.
Fortunately, this time around, we are not in the peril of becoming a minority in our own homeland, and some of the out- migrants are returning home specially the seasonal workers. The 12 thousand immigrants from war torn Syria is another indication that Armenia can become a destination for Armenians no matter what the reasons or motives are.
To help raise the living standard of Armenia, each and every one of us should be doing his or her share according to his or her judgment and ability. In a way, that is what is happening with many and many Armenians, both, in Armenia and Diaspora. Some, although very few, have moved and continue moving to Armenia from Diaspora and integrating rather well with the local economy and the life style as well.
Sure there is the need for “massive investments” to create jobs, but those investors will do it when they see it fit, and as per their ability, and some are doing so, with the enticement and cooperation of the government. Can we do better?, of course we can, there is always room to do better, and the only way I know how, is by doing it. As the saying goes “Խոսքով փիլաւ չեփիր”
In reality, what is needed is a positive thinking, without any blame game, and an attitude of what I and we can do, rather than preaching or criticizing what he and they should do or not do, and making this an excuse, for doing nothing. Need I say that, this last attitude is only self justification for doing nothing, and should not be an option for any one.
After all, after a chaotic start and trying times, and still with many shortcomings, Armenia is on its way to a better future for the people of Armenia. I highlighted the people because for me, first and foremost, people living on the land is the Armenia, and not the land, specially the empty land.
Thankfully, and relatively speaking, and despite of the fact that, Armenia is governed by a Soviet educated oligarchic regime, Armenia to day, is a better governed country, with a better equipped army, a better and active civic society, with a better free press, than any time in its recent history, if not better than ever in its history. Let us cherish it, and strive to make it better.
Zohrab Bebo Sarkissian