YEREVAN (Mediamax) — Head of EU Delegation to Armenia, Ambassador Piotr Switalski spoke about emigration from Armenia and possible risks of Armenia-EU visa regime liberalization today in Yerevan.
At the opening of “Innovative Approaches to Diaspora Engagement and Use of Remittances for Child Wellbeing in Armenia” conference Switalski noted that EU supported Armenia in the line of reduction and cessation of migration flows.
“Armenia is a land of migrants. The Armenian Diaspora is very active and performs as a rather powerful lobby in many countries. It is also a source of foreign investments into Armenia and a cultural bridge between Armenia and the world. The Diaspora provides an opportunity of material assistance as well, particularly in the form of private money transfers. But let’s be honest, those transfers sweeten the situation. People living abroad can be of much more use if they stay in their home countries,” said Head of EU Delegation.
According to the Switalski, EU as the largest donor in Armenia wants to help Armenian authorities establish conditions for Armenians to stay in the country.
“We wish to help young Armenians get appropriate qualification. We want to create new jobs and opportunities through our projects, so that Armenians, especially the youth, see their future in Armenia. This land is too beautiful to let young talents leave and search for a future elsewhere,” noted Switalski.
He observed that EU tries to resolve the issue of migration flows from the Middle East to Europe at present, and in a way that concerns other EU neighbors, including Armenia.
“Within the dialogue between Armenia and EU, we should proceed from visa facilitation to visa liberalization. This isn’t an easy discussion. However, in case of Armenia it isn’t a matter of assimilation of Armenian migrants in European societies. Armenians are the best at integration. They integrate into foreign communities very smoothly, at the same time preserving their national identity and culture.
Therefore, this is not about absorption of Armenian migration flows in Europe. It’s about what will happen to this country [Armenia] if EU liberalizes visa regime and opens borders for Armenia. This is what’s to be understood,” stressed the Ambassador.
He added that EU wanted to have open borders with Armenia, however, they wanted to cooperate with Armenian authorities to develop the country’s economy in the first place, so that “people don’t get disappointed and leave Armenia just to find work.”
Meanwhile, the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) Armenia Country Office Representative Tania Radochai said today that the problem of future wellbeing of children in Armenia can be solved with involvement of migrant workers and Armenian Diaspora.
Radochai talked about it during “Innovative Approaches to Diaspora Engagement and Use of Remittances for Child Wellbeing in Armenia” conference.
“We believe that the best contribution for the country is ensuring the well-being of children, as well as in terms of developing the potential of the nation. If the development does not ensure the participation of children, if many children are living below the poverty line level, it continues to be a source of social instability,” said Radochai.
According to her, although Diaspora and Armenian migrant workers have their own urgent priorities and decide how and where to invest in, however, they can be united around the idea of child wellbeing of Armenia.
“Although a large amount of migrant remittances help their families in poverty, however, more can be done to help migrant families in the future and to ensure the long-term perspective of their children. Only then will the next generation of workers not feel the need to go abroad and have low-paid jobs,” noticed Radochai.
United Nations Children’s Fund conducted the EU -funded program called “Social Response to Work Migration”: international experts were invited to Armenia within that program to help Armenia study the experience of other countries that have diasporas.