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How Can 1m Euros Be Spent In Armenia?

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  • How Can 1m Euros Be Spent In Armenia?


    168 Zham, Armenia
    March 28 2013

    by Babken Tunyan

    [Translated from Armenian]

    Could anyone have thought that it is possible to solve Armenia's
    most serious socioeconomic problems, including that of migration,
    with 1m euros. If such an idea has never existed, let me say that it
    is not a fantastic one.

    Let me present the events one by one.

    The European Union has provided 1m euros to Armenia to support
    "circulating migration and re-integration". The procedure [of
    concluding the agreement] took place on 26 March. Ara Petrosyan, the
    first deputy minister of labour and social affairs of the Republic
    of Armenia, and (?Sarah Korad), the president of the People in
    Need organization, signed an appropriate declaration the day before
    yesterday [26 March].

    The amount is provided within the framework of a more comprehensive
    programme: "Target Initiative for Armenia". (Let us note that the
    European Union provided another 3m euros to assist the solution of
    problems linked to migration.)

    For what purpose will these 1m euros be spent and what issues will
    they resolve?

    Declared elements of migration programme

    Deputy Minister Petrosyan answered this question and presented the
    directions of the programme. The first direction, please be attentive,
    is prevention of migration. How are they going to do that?

    According to Petrosyan, for this purpose, it is necessary to carry
    out correct social and psychological work with people, who intend to
    leave the country, but have not left yet.

    "To propose something that will keep a person back from going abroad.

    To offer a person concrete employment and a concrete job." That is
    to make them abandon the idea to migrate, in other words - to convince.

    This is not a joke, this is official interpretation.

    As they say, the solution is clever in its simplicity. It remains to
    be surprised, why the Armenian authorities have not yet thought of
    appointing a person, who will be convincing people being stationed
    in the airport, bus stations and Armenia's border checkpoints. They
    would give this person some kind of remuneration, but instead would
    avoid migration-related criticism.

    However, it turns out that the programme has such directions as well -
    plan B, as they say in American movies.

    If convincing people fails, if these people decided to leave for sure,
    then, according to the deputy minister, "in such a case, they should
    be provided with all the information necessary for labour migrants
    and the legislation of the countries, where they are to work, and
    guarantees of protection of their rights in those states".

    That is, if convincing not to migrate succeeds, it will be very good.

    If not, then we will provide every kind of assistance so that the
    migrant adapts very quickly, feels himself or herself protected and
    does not come back.

    [Passage omitted: a joke on migration in Armenia]

    However, this is not the end yet.

    If citizens, who are clearly determined to migrate, successfully leave
    within the framework of the programme, then the programme intends to
    encourage the return of Armenian citizens living abroad instead. The
    programme's second direction envisages steps aimed at re-integration
    of people, who want to return to Armenia, and to provide them with
    apartments and income. Let us note that this is envisaged in the
    framework of the same 1m euros.

    Finally, the programme's fourth direction envisages developing
    institutional capacity in Armenia, setting up resource centres,
    where people will be able to receive detailed information before
    going abroad and prior to returning to the motherland.

    Money spent for "unclear purpose" previously

    By reading these lines, one almost believes that it is possible to
    work real miracles with 1m euros. However, the bitter experience of
    the previous years does not let us believe in miracles, unfortunately.

    One of the people responsible for the programme leaked the information
    that this initiative is not new, that it started a few years ago,
    and that Armenia has already received 9m euros within the framework
    of this initiative.

    We know that about 200,000 people have emigrated from Armenia over the
    past five years [2007-2012], and this number is growing as time passes.

    That is, the efficiency of such programmes is in fact low, and 9m
    euros have been spent for an unclear purpose and 1m euros would not
    suffice to convince even 50 families to stay in Armenia.

    True reason behind migration programme

    So what is the reason for the enthusiasm?

    To tell the truth, the reason is that mainly conferences and seminars
    with their "coffee breaks" and the publication of training materials,
    brochures, and fliers is envisaged within the framework of such
    programmes. Armenian organizations involved in such programmes manage
    to earn some money in the form of grants in addition to spending
    their time pleasantly.

    Are Europeans unaware of all this? Of course, they are. Why is then
    money spent on such programmes?

    It would be naive to think that they do not sleep at night,
    thinking of the demographic situation in Armenia. These people are
    simply concerned about their own situation and try to cut down the
    level of migration into their countries - keeping migrants in their
    motherlands. The success of these programmes should be the issue of
    concern for grant donors.