1,000 Armenians have repatriated to Armenia in the past couple of years

Armenia promotes repatriation, and alongside state programs, the public sector is also actively involved in the sphere. Over the past five years, approximately 1,000 Armenians have repatriated to Armenia by their will and initiative from the United States, Europe and the Near East. Among them are mainly families. There are also youth who also wish to continue their lives in Armenia. As Head of the Department of Repatriation and Research at the RA Ministry of Diaspora Grigor Arshakyan told “ArmenPress”, to organize repatriation and solve other issues, the RA Ministry of Diaspora collaborates with several organizations, including Repat Armenia. “Since 2009, 700-1,000 Armenians have repatriated to Armenia. It’s clear that the Armenians who settled in Armenia due to the war in Syria have not been included in the estimates (and there are nearly 11,000 Syrian-Armenians-ed.),” Grigor Arshakyan said.

Repat Armenia, which was founded over a year ago and has helped more than 600 repatriates unite in Armenia, works with not only repatriates living in the homeland, but other Armenians with the desire to repatriate. “Our main goal is to help people who voluntarily and conscientiously wish to move to Armenia. First, we try to spread the right information about life in Armenia, including the advantages and disadvantages.

Since many repatriates haven’t lived in Armenia, they don’t have a good understanding of the country and, unfortunately, they receive news that is exaggerated,” Executive Director of Repat Armenia Vardan Marashlyan mentioned.

According to him, the repatriates also don’t know whom to contact, how to receive information about life in and repatriation to Armenia, and for that the organization holds different kinds of events in various Armenian communities of the Diaspora. Repat Armenia also carries out activities with different groups visiting Armenia from different countries, especially in the summer. The representatives present objective information about life in Armenia and the services that are provided, which can be useful for the repatriates living in Armenia. “We provide assistance on the site and at a distance via the Internet. Our greatest achievement is that we have been able to bring together 600 well-established, integrated repatriates from the United States, Canada, Russia, Lebanon, Syria and other countries who are ready to share their experiences with the newcomers and make sure that they integrate more easily,” Vardan Marashlyan mentioned. He also attached importance to activities with the locals who can have a great impact on the repatriates’ integration with their attitude.

After the return, Repat Armenia tries to help the repatriates find jobs and start their businesses, provides them with necessary information and helps them establish contacts. “We start working with them and understanding their problems. We first help them find jobs. We work with different local organizations that are interested in hiring experts who have received education abroad and have work experience. Currently, we work with more than 40 organizations and have helped 150 repatriates find jobs in Armenia,” the Executive Director of Repat Armenia said.

“As for starting businesses, we provide the repatriates with contacts with professional organizations in accounting, consulting and legal aid so that they understand the conditions for investments, as well as the advantages and disadvantages. In addition, the repatriates who have already experienced all this and know the risks, share their information with the new repatriates,” Vardan Marashlyan said, mentioning that the establishment of contacts between the repatriates helps them settle in the homeland. “Experience has shown that the repatriates have to communicate with the repatriates who have already experienced what they are experiencing. Our goal is to help the repatriates integrate as quickly as possible and feel like they are a part of the country. We take measures, organize meetings at least once a month in order to help the new repatriates communicate with the repatriates who have been living in Armenia for several years.

Those wishing to repatriate and locals representing specific fields also participate in the meetings,” Vardan Marashlyan said and attached importance to the signals that will make a Diaspora Armenian feel that Armenia needs him or her, that there is someone thinking of his or her return and that he or she is wanted.

Aramazd Galayjian, who moved from New York and has been living in Armenia with his wife for a year and a half already, says the difficulties in Armenia are the same difficulties in any country and that one simply has to look at Armenia from a different angle and at the role that the repatriates play. “There is corruption and economic insecurity everywhere. We have to change the way we look at the country. I’m not saying we should disregard the bad things, but we have to see the good things as well and do everything possible to solve the problems,” Galayjian said.

Galayjian made the decision to return to Armenia when he and a group of volunteers visited Artsakh, communicated with the locals and got in touch with the national culture. “When I worked on the land, communicated with the people and saw the real land that had always been a dream or a figment of imagination for us, I realized that, by understanding my culture, I can help others have a better understanding. I considering returning and understanding myself,” Aramazd Galayjian said. A couple of years ago, he studied Armenian history and came up with the idea of producing a film. He’s also thinking of starting his own business.

His wife, Ani, is conducting a study on women’s recuperative health.

Nina Mehrabyan, who left her parents and brother in Belarus and moved to Armenia two months ago, said she always had a feeling that she was going to move to Armenia. “I was born, raised and received an education in Belarus and was president of the “Miasin” (Together) Armenian Youth Union. Ever since I realized my Armenian identity, I have always heard that I must return to Armenia. My return wasn’t unexpected. It simply came a little late. My first visit to Armenia was when I was 8 years old. Until then, I had always loved, worshipped and respected the Armenia that I had been told about,” Nina Mehrabyan mentioned, noting that even though some of the first impressions of Armenia might be disappointing, “the important thing is not where you live, but who you are”.

“My last visit to Armenia was in April 2013, and when I returned to Belarus, I realized that I have to return to Armenia. I finished what I was doing and returned. Nobody believed that I would return. We’re all travelers. There is no Armenian family abroad that doesn’t think of returning one day. Sooner or later, people start talking about it,” Nina Mehrabyan said, adding that the warmth and the sun in the morning in Armenia is enough for her to have a good mood and be energetic.

Throughout the past year and a half, Repat Armenia has organized meetings with Armenians in San Francisco, Los Angeles, London, Moscow and Beirut. This year, the organization plans on holding similar meetings in Iran, Lebanon, Georgia, France, Russia, Canada and the United States.

Prepared by Ani Nazaryan




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