Leadership Council for Human Rights

~ Feet in the mud, head in the sky ~

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Armenian returnees see signs of economic progress in homeland

Large numbers of expatriate Armenians now returning to their homeland, The Associated Press reported Sunday.

The large Armenian diaspora is partially a function of the murderous World War I-era campaigns of Ottoman Turkey, which left 1.5 million dead and displaced countless others in what many have labeled genocide. In more recent times, large-scale displacement has resulted from the dissolution of the Soviet Union and the conflict with Azerbaijan over the disputed territory of Nagorno-Karabakh. The remittances of those living abroad today account for up to 10 percent of Armenia’s economy.

However, the last four years have seen the first positive trend in population inflow since the Soviet collapse, with Armenia gaining 33,200 residents. According to the article, many of the returnees are from the Russian diaspora, with some “lured back by economic improvements” and others “escaping growing xenophobia.”

Still, Armenia is not without its problems. Over 25 percent of its residents are poor, post-election protests have erupted of late, and the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict continues.

Despite all this, returnees see signs of hope. “Today this country offers a lot of possibilities,” said Zorair Atabekian, who returned from Canada in 2005. “That is why many diaspora are returning here to start up businesses.”

For the full article, click here.


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