In the latest column, we discussed the fate of the person who left his country. I promised then to further discuss the reasons forcing Armenians to massively leave their country.
Bad economic situation, the imperfection of state management and as a consequence, corruption and restriction of economic freedoms, and eventually, the lack of personal development prospects stand among the main three reasons most frequently mentioned.
It would seem everything is clear. But does it mean that when the flow was not this large the situation was much better? Definitely not. Besides, Armenian civil society has greatly developed over the recent years. State institutions are being gradually strengthened. Apparently, certain professions already have a lack of personnel, including in the sphere of promising start-ups. So, what’s going on? Why the outflow of population became this large-scale especially now?
We should admit that it is not sound to explain everything by domestic economic and political reasons. In most cases, those who migrate from Armenia live in worse conditions in their new place, than in Armenia. As to political reasons, it should be said that Russia where the main outflow of migrants goes is not any better in terms of political freedoms, justice, corruption and rule of law.
The situation might appear clearer if we take into account that huge changes took place not so much in Armenia but rather around the world.
After 2008 crisis, the cash flow to Armenia stopped (it basically comes from Russia). Those working abroad were no longer able to send money with the generosity they used to before while life in Armenia kept on getting more expensive. Many businesses traditionally owned by Armenians stopped bringing profits; it particularly refers to construction and road works. Accordingly, the number of people forced to search for means of livelihood considerably increased.
On the other hand, the demand for cheap high-quality personnel increased abroad, and in the first place, in Russia. Local businessmen came to the conclusion that after Ukrainians and Belarusians, Armenians represent one of the best options of imported labor as they get easily adapted, don’t reside in enclaves, don’t arouse the negative attitude of the local population, majority of them can communicate in Russian more or less, work well and don’t drink. Also, it became easy for young Armenians to find new job opportunities abroad; they are ready to do the same job for less money, and salary saving has become a notable factor against the background of the crisis.
These two factors act as an additional “vacuum cleaner” to draw people out of Armenia. But they can't fully explain the situation either. The observed scale of emigration forces to look for other, more fundamental reasons.
Armenian President stated in one of his speeches that an atmosphere of indifference and apathy has emerged in the country. No one argues it, but what has caused it?
What can make a person give up his routine, leave the city he was born in and go to a foreign country? As a rule, such a decision is not single-step; people "mature" for a long time before making such a step. We have various feelings, but only one of them is able to accumulate with time and cause even the most passive people to take measures. That feeling is called worry. People don’t leave for the sake of something but because of something. They don’t leave for something, but out of something.
Apathy is always a reaction to fear. It’s a natural remedy for worry. It’s obvious for every psychologist. We appear in apathy when we don’t want to feel any more because those feelings seem to be destructive for us.
What has caused this fear? In a broader sense, the answer is clear.
Firstly, willingly or not, the authorities drive people into fear when they pursue the tactics of survival. Armenia is constantly in the survival mode. Survival is also the strategy of authorities to preserve the power by all means. The best way to preserve authority is by frightening.
Secondly, our nation has no elite; there are no “fathers of nation”, people who are trusted and who can be followed. The nation has been oftentimes cheated by those who they followed. It also causes confusion in the heart. Our nation is like a herd without a pastor.
Thirdly, our existence is rather purposeless. Prior to the international financial crisis in 2008, it seemed we could achieve some well-being, similar to that “in Europe”. But the crisis put everything in its places; people stopped believing in future well-being. When this goal turned into a distant dream, it turned out that our nation has no more higher purposes. The lack of high purposes deprives the nation of will, sows discords and alienation among people. Everything takes to struggle for material benefits, Vanity Fair, demonstration of its wealth, influence and power.
What can be worse than the purposeless existence of a small country surrounded by enemies in the large and complicated world? What can be worse than life without hope?
What can be done? There are no any quick recipes although we should act firmly since current migration tendencies don’t allow to delay it. We should create islets of hope, strengthen state institutions, struggle for just political and legal system, establish alternative centers for economic power, support immigration and return of Armenians. All efforts should be geared towards this.
We should all remember that Armenia is a unique country which has inherited ancient, rich and bright culture which can give a nation capable of relying on it an enormous potential to grow and develop and simply, become happy. We should all realize the ultimate responsibility we bear for our descendents and our world for the preservation and development of that culture. We should preserve our country because we are doomed without it. Each of us should think of what they did today for that purpose.
Aram Pakhchanyan is the Co-Founder of Ayb Educational Foundation and Vice-President of ABBYY. The views expressed in the column are his own and may not coincide with those of Mediamax.