BY MARIA TITIZIAN
If the current trend continues, it is estimated that by the end of 2013 almost 100,000 Armenians will have left the country. In a few short months we will learn the final figure of this new wave of mass departure.
If this trend holds steady, it means about 265 people will have exited the borders of our homeland on a daily basis, the overriding majority never to return.
This figure might not seem high at first glance, but it translates to about 66 families a day. Think about this number, 66 families. Now think about the street you live on or the apartment building where you reside. This figure means that most likely every single home on your street or every apartment in your building will be left vacant. The paint will chip, the grass will be covered in weeds, the shrubs will overgrow, the asphalt on driveways will crack, the pipes will rust, and the windows will be covered in a thick film of dust and soot.
The rooms of these now-empty homes will be hollow shells of what was once a life – life with all of its messy, complicated, painful, passionate, joyful moments. There will be no more babies born, or love made, or arguments or the passing of a beloved grandparent. There will be no more weddings or baptisms. There will be no more studying for exams or writing of essays. Words and conversations will no longer drift through the rooms, which would have written a story of a life lived and loved. There will be no more stories. No more dreams and hopes.
Just empty houses and apartments.
Sixty-six families a day means that every single day the lights in two entire apartment buildings in Yerevan will be forever turned off. Sixty-six families mean that half the population of a small village will leave behind homes, memories, graves of parents and grandparents…
I know what it feels like to pack up a home, a life, a family and move across oceans to another country.
I know how it feels to try and decide what to keep and what to throw or give away for every fragment represents a memory, a touch, a feel, a sensation.
I know what it feels like to walk through empty rooms, closing the blinds and turning off the lights one by one; rooms where my children had slept and played games and dreamed of fairies and monsters.
I know what it feels like to leave behind a thriving garden full of tomatoes and cucumbers, parsley and mint, mulberries and fruit trees that my husband had tended to so passionately, a garden that had blossomed with our children.
I know what it feels like to shut the front door, lock it and then hand the key over to a stranger and ask them to tend to the house with care because it held so many precious memories and where we had become a family.
I know what it feels like to stand at a gate in a sterile airport and say goodbye to parents and sisters and brothers, friends and community. I remember the tears falling down my face as the plane ascended, whisking us away from everything that was safe and familiar, while my husband held my hand and tried to shield our children from that pain.
I feel for every one of those 66 families that leave Armenia on a daily basis. I know what they went through to arrive at that decision, I know and understand the pain but while we were running toward something, they are running away from something and I don’t blame anyone yet I blame everyone.
If that figure remains steady, it will be the equivalent of the total and absolute depopulation of the Marz of Syunik or Vayots Dzor or Lori.
Think about it.
Imagine that an entire state in America, a province in Canada, an arrondisement in Paris completely emptied out. No children in school, no patients in hospitals, no priests or congregations in churches, no bakers, doctors, nurses, dentists, teachers.
It means that the villages of Akhtala, Ayrum, Dastakert, Dzynashogh, Toumanyan and countless others will turn into ghost towns. Not a single human soul left to tend to the fields and pastures, no one to remember the dead and buried, no one to write their stories.
Who to blame?
The regime for its utter failure to provide security and prosperity? Civil society for its impotence? Those who make a good living in Armenia, yet are so ready to give up on her potential? The oligarchs for sucking the blood of the people? The political parties who are more concerned with maintaining their positions of perceived “power” rather than making a serious attempt at regime change? The Diaspora for its indifference or those who offer advice from afar while never having even stepped foot on this blessed land? I blame every last one of us.
Ten years from now, we will not have the ability, capacity or human resources to protect our borders, we don’t even need to bother with industry or production because there won’t be anyone left to buy or consume it.
If this trend continues, in a decade there will be barely 1.5 million Armenians left in the homeland. It’s an interesting number, no?
Think about it.
The big problem is not the migration but the fact that Armenians in general have too few children. And this cannot be blamed on poverty since most poor countries in the world have huge young populations, especially Muslim ones.
So it’s a cultural thing, and this can be changed with political will. Unfortunately the Armenian government doesn’t seem to possess this will.
If Armenians have more children, let’s say four children for each couple, then the migration won’t be a problem anymore.
“Ten years from now, we will not have the ability, capacity or human resources to protect our borders”
We’re not protecting our borders today either, it’s the Russians who do that (border with Turkey and Iran).
Please stop this hysteric about “the Russians” protecting our borders. For most of the posters here “our” borders are protected by US Coast Guard and Minutemen.
Armenia borders with NATO Turkey and Iran are also happened to be the Commonwealth of Independent States borders and protected by the CIS border guards. Armenia is a full member of CIS. Yes, many of them are from Russia, but keep in mind that millions of ethnic Armenians live in Russia and have a preference to serve in Armenia.
What hysteria? It’s the truth. Yes, there are ethnic Armenian guards on the border with Turkey, but they serve in the Russian army, not in the Armenian one.
As you know..
Armenia is part of CIS and Turkey is part of NATO. The two military blocks are not friends. Turkey’s skies on the border with Syria are guarded by Dutch and German troops, for example. Turkey hosts foreign bases filled with foreign troops.
We have to recognize that the border between Armenia and Western Armenia occupied by NATO is also the border between NATO and CIS.
Stupid soviet mentality of “Armenian” armenians is to blame, they still live in their mafia dream and they will destroy our legacy, unless we take action and hang the oligarchs or torture them to death ….
Dear Maria, another well thought out column. But let’s not loose hope. We’ve learned since we were young that there is only three things that we should always cling to it. Houys – Havatk – Sair. Hope, faith and love, Let’s not loose that sight.
Yes, Armenia being emptied is threatening the future of the nation itself, but rather than conjuring up an American state or a Canadian province in the same situation for illustrations’ sake, let’s have a real conversation with real substance!! I think most Asbarez readers can imagine an empty Yerevan without all the long list of analogies.
I basically disagree that blame be placed on each and every one of us, as the author states.
Ever since the 1999 assassination of 8 members of Parliament, hope and faith in Armenia’s government was lost.
I think Armenians everywhere were in in shock when they heard the news of the assassinations. I distinctly remember feeling personally an utter loss of faith in Armenians for having allowed this to happen to our nation. This was not an assassination like that of JFK and we are still living in its shadow.
I am no political analyst, but I would like to hear what some might say regarding this one tragic moment in recent Armenian history and I would venture to say that Armenia has never recovered from it.
Years ago, Iranian-born Marcos Grigorian moved to Armenia from NYC, gifted his Near East Museum to the nation and started an Armenian rug factory in Garni only to die several years later at the hands of alleged “robbers” who broke into his home and beat him.
Marcos, like Vazgen Sargsyan, was an Armenian hero and he was murdered for it.
My point is this: Armenia’s government has been the source of strangling its own nation and its own people. And it has gone on and on and on ever since October 27th, 1999.
What’s needed is a national conversation and a solution to the problem.
Yes we are all responsible, but placing blame on everyone will get us nowhere.
I view this as bad that people are leaving and unfortunately good. Why good? The further Armenians get away from the 100 million Turks that surround it, the better! No second genocide!! Russia is slowly becoming a Muslim nation due to high birth rates. This is according to Pew, “The Muslim share of the country’s population is expected to increase from 11.7% in 2010 to 14.4% in 2030.”
So in a 100 or more years, when Russia becomes a Sunni (like Turkey) Muslim dominant country, do you think Russia will view Turkey as a threat? No. Why will Russia want to be in the Caucasus? Second, by then there will be sources to replace oil, so Russia will have another reason not to be in the Caucasus.
This is what happens when you rely on “Pews” to make sense of what is happening in Russia or Armenia.
The survey conveniently omits such crucial information about Russian Muslim population that the majority of them drink vodka and eat pork and never read Koran… Remember, just a generation ago they were all Soviet atheists.
Armenia’s population is already far below the 3.2 million the government claims to be. Once the oligarchs are weeded out from the fabric of the Armenian society, i.e., once Armenia’s business environment becomes more competitive, both foreign and domestic investors would be more eager to do business there. With greater competition come more job opportunities. More job opportunities mean less exodus of the working population to the modern day gulags of Russia and elsewhere. The government has been sitting on deaf ear for quite some time and is only now heeding the warnings of a statistical and strategic nightmare.
Until the Armenian authorities recognize this as a serious fact, and begin to address it constructively, no one in the diaspora can change much.
We have endured for thousands of years….
Unfortunately we are our own worst enemy….
We should expand NO TAX for corporations, NO tax for individuals, like Thailand, and Singapore, and watch the GDP shoot upwards, and unemployment zoom down, as every corporation will want to have a branch in Armenia!
Hope someone in Armenia does a little research into these countries’ ideas, and see them at work.
There are many smaller nations than Armenia that do very well financially.
We just have to wake up and be a little proud to be an Armenian…..as we were in the past….it’s not too late….yet…
Dear Ms Titizian
Yes….you are right.
However with words ,nothing changes.
Political feud…,Economy mismanagement …..threat of war….makes living in Armenia quite unpleasant.
People will endure hardship for their soil,if they get the basic freedom in politics and enough to support their families.So maybe we must address the “Real” issues not the by products of them….
JUST MAKE BABIES!!!
Dear Ms. Titizian: Thank you for writing such a thorough, insightful article. While everyone is leaving Armenia, I have decided to return to my motherland and find ways to help people to the best of my ability. Ms. Titizian, I have been coming to Armenia for the past 10 years and have done all I could to rebuild border villages through establishment of an NGO and made sure to teach “sustainability”. I do believe that Armenia is in a very crucial and fragile state. Migration and depopulation is nothing new, I witnessed depopulated villages 8 years ago, a very sad scene.
Who to blame is an interesting question and the answer resides with PEOPLE only.. only Armenians, inside the Armenia can unite to change the regime, noone else can do it for them. Our brilliant youth are leaving the country and taking their knowledge and intelligence to serve the neighboring countries. This is a MODERN GENOCIDE.
This country in flux and yet noone is willing to take the first step to be a part of the change. It takes a village to raise a child….. it takes one million to bring down the oligarch and this fascist regime.
My message to all who migrate from the motherland, I don’t blame you and I understand your situation.. however, let it be known that once you leave the Armenian soul, you become to be an ODAR and have no right to dictate what needs to be done in Armenia. Enjoy your lavish life style abroad and don’t get involved in Armenia, you have already abandoned the country.
Very movingly written. If this does an act as a sobering wake up call to mobilization and action that must be challenged through an all-Armenian, global level, we will hit that dead end very soon.
very well written, with very sad ending…
Thank you Maria for a very powerful and well written article!
I was touched and read it three times over. I sympathize and fully endorse the view that the major and most alarming problem in Armenia is the dismal demographics. There are only 2,000,000 people residing in Armenia and of these 1,000,000 live in Yerevan.
The countryside is virtually empty except for small pockets. The once vibrant Soviet cities of Leninakan, Kirovakan and Hoktemberyan have given way to sleepy towns of Gyumri, Vanadzor and Armavir.
Maria is spot on in saying that in a decade there may be as few as 1,500,000 people living in Armenia.
Her main problem is identifying the reasons for this decline. Is it really the Government that is to blame for the obvious failures? I think not. The main culprits are the people themselves.
Hayastantsis have opted to ally themselves with the extremist and self defeating elements in the diaspora. The latter elements have long ago adopted the ‘Genocide Religion’ as their formal religion and have done their level best to convert Hayastantsis to it. Theirs is a catechism of victimization, hatred, vengeance and the perpetual bliss of the looming and imminent disaster that is surely lurking around the corner and is masterminded by the Turks, Jews, Russians and/or any other contemporary “enemy”.
In return for their conversion Hayastantsis have ended up with a plethora of diaspora funded NGO’s and charities that act mostly as a form of bribing the new converts into believing that salvation will come from the concrete highway paradise of Glendale and the suburbs of Paris and Moscow.
These charities are on a whole wasteful and are a benefit to the middle class in Yerevan and some opposition forces in the regions rather than contributing to sustainable growth and bettering demogrpahics.
The Government has its hands tied by the spiritual adherents to the Genocide Religion that today represent half of the Armenian population. Let the truth be told and shout it over the roof tops of Northern Avenue so that even the foolish diasporans and well to do Hayastantsis hear it while they sip their overpriced coffees in the many cafes; Armenia will NOT develop unless and until it solves its precarious geo strategic situation. This will involve a compromise in Nagorno Karabagh as well as a long overdue mending of relations with Turkey.
And last but not least a small history lesson to those who will dismiss my comment as sheer nonsense; Germany was a completely devastated and divided country in 1945.
95% of all buildings in Berlin and Dresden were destroyed beyond repair as well as the entire industrial and transportation capacity. Only 23 years later West Germany was the third largest economy in the world and East Germany was the most prosperous economy in the Eastern Block. Maybe it is not entirely silly to listen to what a German with less than average intelligence has to say after all…?
Maria Titizian in her article made it clear that 100000 armwnians left the homeland. As I stated several times before, the Armenina Government must change it’s policy and give Armenians living in the diaspora citizenship without conditions. In my late letter to the Armenian Embassy in Vienna I proposed my sugestions and asked them to informe the Armenian Government. This will have a positive impact in the long run.
What conditions do you speak about? Dual citizenship is really easy to obtain nowadays.. Even a 10 year special passport (though slightly on the expensive side) is rather easy. Grab one and come to Armenia. 😉 There are dozen of repats coming in yearly, so you wont be alone
I had to leave my house and my parents to come to US and that is one only thing that i will never regreat in my life…why blame diaspora? Those who come here they should adopt and live thier lives, they cannot do anything (except to support thier relatives in Armenia funansialy) to change Armenia or Armenians
Blame the goverment: whoever became a president, came to power, abused it! What does it tell you? Why Georgia was able to stop the corruption? why cann’t Armenians? location does not have anything to do with corruption or dishonesty. Armenians are good only to fight with each other: we were haveing a party at my work and there were only 2 Armenians (myslf and Armenian man of my age) I said yes, Armenians are leaving soon we mihgt have more Armenians here, in US than in Armenia itself.” and right away he corrected me trying to prove that i was wrong…….I said it is only 2 mil Armenias in Armenia, and he said no, it is 3mil. …i said it is 10 mil in the world, and he said no, it is only 5 mil. So then i said to others who were watching us: see, you put 2 Armenians together and they will start fighting”……..unfortunately, it is true……we first should learn to get along and agree to disagree by voting, rules, constitution, not just demonstartions and stop working (although the last demonstrations about the bus ticket prices was good one) Still continue writing, i like your articles and thank you
You have no place to speak, you have already abandoned the fight. Everybody loves to complain but do nothing to fix the problems. Blame the government all you want, but do we not have the collective power to change things? This is not excuse for being weak, which is what we are. We must fight, not run away. We must build and fix, not escape. What kind of message are you sending? That if the conditions are bad the only thing to do is to leave? There are countries a thousand times worse off than Armenia, yet if we listen to people here we are some 5th world hell hole. I’ve known people who have had normal lives in Armenia (a job, an apartment, food, etc) yet they left for a better life. Not a normal life, mind you, but a BETTER life. I do not care for people like that. Let them go in search of their nicer homes and nicer cars, Armenia doesn’t need them. And if you fall in that category, than Armenia doesn’t need you, either. These are the same people who would be first to sell us out in case of war.
i dont need a nicer car or nicer house i just need the rule of law so when i go to armenia with money to live someone doesnt come knock my head off and take the money to Serzh…. you dummy
I understand and sympathize with your frustration Ashot, but the only people who can put a stop to that is us. We can’t leave, wait for somebody else to fix things, and say we’ll only live there once this or that is done. We must be the catalyst for change. Running away solves nothing, except for leaving our brothers and sisters to fight the fight on their own. This is what the robber barons want, less people to object to their thievery.
I’m living in Armenia and no one has even given me a second glance… Stay under the radar and live as you would anywhere else, no one cares to bother you. Make some friends, be pleasant, and don’t be afraid to say you are a Hayrenatarts… I heard all these excuses before moving away from friends and family to come home to Armenia… a kid born and raised in Canada. I have yet to come across a problem I cannot solve on my own. Oh yeah, and I do take part in protests that help change things too.. remember the bus fare hike? The people won 😀
Emigration should be discouraged. Sooner or later we shall be in a real war ( we are in a state of undeclared war at the moment) .The homeland can not be protected without soldiers. There is a great deal of pessimism and defeatism. Articles of this nature do not help at all, on the contrary it incites to plans to evacuate the land, not to defend it. The picture is phantasmagoric. The demographic pressure is an endemic problem of all European derived culture and people’s. It is time that the keyboard muses and prophets of doom instead of exalting the anomaly and defeatism that exist today start writing concrete proposals for its remedies. We have heard it a thousand times over the story of corruption ( there is corruption in every single county in the world) the story of oligarchs ( the EU and every single country within it is controlled by their own type of Oligarchs, who are rapacious, lawless and single minded in their pursuit of their policies) the curse of unemployment, and other maladies affecting our country. Corruption, oligarchs, unemployment will not disappear by writing nicely worded articles for the umpteenth time. What is needed is real solutions . As long as materialism and atomization are Armenia,s adopted essence, like the rest of the world, we may not rise above in solving our issues, or improving the level of our state.
Armenia is in a state of war. Does anyone know that ? Armenia calls for maximum sacrifices, not for luxuries and a sybaritic life enjoying standards similar to wealthy and rich countries. Those leaving Armenia, we wish them well and good luck. They’ll soon find out that the grass is not any greener on the other side. A country at war has to have priorities for self protection, independence and self reliance. Maybe Armenian living space is not sufficient to sustain the current number of population at a European standard of living ( careful with that statement, we are better off than Greece , we have not sank to their level.). Those who depart will leave room for those who stay and ultimately a demographic balance might be struck. The utopia of ” Western investments, infinite growth, progress and prosperity ad infinitum are pipe dreams in the clouds. There is a number of things that can and need to improve, and will improve; but at this critical moment of our historical existence we can ill afford to be distracted from the foremost priority. The defense of our small land, our sovereignty in so far as possible, the retention of our national and religious identity, these are non negotiable aims and goals . These challenging virtues call for sacrifices of the most extreme nature. The matter here is one of survival or capitulation . If we are to pursue the materialistic attainments, and this materialism becomes our national obsession the easy and simple choices are staring us in our faces. All what we have to do is elect a patron power to become our colonial master . We can become a turkish colony,( open the border and be gulped down into the turkish economy) a EU province, or an and Azeri appendage and then we can have no land, lose our identity, but at an individual level we might enjoy the material fruits of whatever the obsession for well being and comfort dictates. Diasporans returning to Armenia be prepared for sacrifices. If the Diasporan comes to Armenia with the purpose of easy, comfortable and trouble free living, think twice. The spirit and the sound of ancestral voices is an alluring pull to return to our sacred roots. As for our oligarchs, well they are corrupt. I doubt whether there is a quick fix. Compare our Oligarchs conduct and behaviour, and not a single one can reach the heights of corruption and debauchery like the former president of the IMF Straus Kahn , pimp par excellence, or Berlusconi, a corrupt rascal fit to run a school for corrupt crooks ( space prevents me from listing further examples from the ” incorruptible and exemplary character and conduct of foreign politicians-presidents -oligarchs. Our crew of oligarchs are tame creatures compared with those gentlemen.
you be a turk… armenia stays for armenians
Maria Titizian is raising an alarm that is more fundamental than our great committees preparing to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the genocide. A number of comments already mentioned that new business investments are the only salvation to keep the people at home. We have global armenian business groups that meet regularly. What are their plans other than good cocktail hours?. Regrettably I must admire the world wide jewish groups that after the creation of Israel created a powerful economy in Israel in a much more difficult environment than ours.
Unless someone has been to RoA it is impossible to know how seductively gorgeous this country is. Those who leave will never again encounter such astonishing beauty of landscape. They will forever be “odars” wherever they go. They will never again conduct their everyday lives in the same way. They will have to adapt to other customs, language, and politics. They will not live their daily lives of work and socialization in their own language. Their children will assimilate into another culture. They may be called to fight in battles for other lands. They may spill their blood for causes not their own. They will leave behind – perhaps forever – much loved elderly family members. They may never again walk on Armenian soil, in the shadow of Ararat.
Will they make more money? Will their standard of living be so much higher that it is worth giving up a familiar life in the stunningly beautiful country of their birth? I’m not so sure. Television tells them the world outside is wealthy, but google Detroit bankruptcy or USA bankrupt cities and see what you get. Try googling jobs for Greece, or Portugal, or Spain or Italy, and RoA starts to look good. Check personal bankruptcy statistics in the country of your choice. See how many who appear to be living a luxurious lifestyle are living on borrowed money. The number one reason for the increasing divorce rate in the western world is dissent about money between partners.
The most important question Maria has asked is “Who is to blame?” Ask the people who are still there. Listen as they angrily tell you, one after the other, that governments have been run by robber barons. This is what has to be addressed in order for the country to attract the kind of investments from abroad that creates jobs. And yes, the clock is ticking.
I read every comment and the article there must be someone more inteligent than me that can answer few questions pop up in my mind, Maria and all those who wrote comments are good Armenians, what about Serg sarkisian, Hovig Abrahamian, Prime Minister, and all those generals in the armed forcess, if you and me are concerned about this issue, what about them, are they less Armenians, sure they are corruption, but not at a price that they will loose the country, if so why is Robert Kocharian still living in Armenia he has made millions he can go and live in Spain or Greece with his family, surely those countries have more to offer in luxury than Armenia, how much money do you need to live the good life, he has millions. the idea to have money, so you can live in luxury, Armenia is not the place to live luxury life, I know I lived there for 5 years. so to me its not that the oligarchs and the power elite are hungary for power and money, they have that, the question is now that they have both, why stay in Armenia, if you careless about armenia. Serg can take his family and live Armenia towmorow with millions of dollors to live a good life anywhere in Europe, but he has not done that, so is Kocharioan why?
The oligarch and the rulers of Armenia, past and present, particularly since independence, are busy embezzling the country down to the last cent. These individuals and their cronies not numbering more than 500-1000 have enslaved and exploited poor Armenians without any respect for any form of citizen rights and human dignity. They continue to abuse the power they hold to bleed everyone dry in order to enrich themselves. They are not yet done with destroying the country! After they have finished the vicious job of draining the country, then they will leave. Besides, why should they leave the country now. They have everything; the good life, the luxurious homes,brand name shops, the best restaurants, the best wines and spirits and the best money can buy. In addition, they are well protected, and have all the security they need to stay alive. If and when they leave the country with their acquired loot, they might face the same fate as Talat Pasha. As a caveat to our respectable leaders, please remember what happened to Talat Pasha and stop your genocidal behavior. Besides, Armenians are also known for bravery. Be careful!
We thank Maria Titizian for bringing out this serious issue of migration of our Armenian People. Already over One Million Armenians have left the country and if the figures are correct on another 100,000 leaving, this will be a disaster for the country. I personally believe lack of jobs is the reason for people leaving. Pres. DerBedrossian is one of the reasons for no jobs. We understand he sold all the Shoe Factory machinery as well as the Textile machinery to the Iranians after the Soviet Regime collapsed along with his brother whom became millionaires. Wealthy Armenians from the diaspora were afraid to establish buisnesses their because of the Armenian Mafia whom would want a chip of the profits. The Government has done nothing to clean up this corruption. If nothing is not done immediately, then Armenia will not survive as a Nation in the short future.
There are plenty of ghost states and towns in the US loosing population. Ever tried to rent a moving track? There are six moving tracks going out of California for each one coming in!!
Such articles are printed periodically with almost no new information and twisted facts and statistics with only one purpose – to prevent Armenians from all over the world from moving back to Armenia.
At the same time, articles about good things happening in Armenia are blocked and there are no publications about Diaspora Armenians moving to Armenia and living happy lives there.
Every reader should ask a simple question – why do I get to read this recycled junk over and over and never anything positive?
The grandchildren of those who have moved from Hayastan to L.A. will marry African Americans and
Latinos and have their children.
By the way, every European country except Albania is below replacement rate in terms of birth rates.
If this continues, Western civilization will die. The same thing is happening in Russia.
This is cultural and biological suicide. It is unfortunate because then the barbarians will take over,
and I think particularly we Armenians know who those are, don’t we?
Precisely. And already many Iranians and Arabs are moving into Armenia. Just in my neighborhood there are two new Arabic families, who aren’t poor war refugees but well to do businessmen. Interesting isn’t it? Armenians are leaving but yet the country is prosperous enough to attract foreigners? I am not xenophobic, but given our history we of all nations cannot afford a demographic decline. The globalist goal is to empty Armenia of Armenians, as they’ve been trying to do for the past one hundred years, just as they are doing to the entire native European population. You’re a fool if you don’t notice how this decline is encouraged by much bigger forces than our own government.