By Edmond Y. Azadian
The newly-formed Ministry of Diaspora has a very creative minister at the helm, namely Hranoush Hagopian, who develops many innovative programs, or puts into practice ideas long discussed but never acted upon.
Ever since Hagopian took over the ministry, several world conferences have been held in Armenia (architects, medical professionals, educators, lawyers and journalists) to tap into the diaspora resources to benefit Armenia.
Recently, a new initiative was launched to lure young Armenians living abroad to settle in Armenia. It is a worthwhile project, which caught the imagination of some Diaspora-Armenian youth. But the idea also touched some raw nerves and triggered a hot controversy. One of the soul-searching and pertinent articles was signed in the daily Azg in Yerevan, by Varoujan Sirapian, founder and director of Chobanian Research Center in Paris, France.
The program announced by the Diaspora Ministry is called Ari Tun (come home). The writer has reversed the title and renamed it Mena Tun (stay home); the upshot of this reversal is that Sirapian asks the authorities what incentives they are offering to the diaspora youth to come and stay in the homeland and second, he suggests, shouldn’t we find ways to keep the Armenian-born youth at home, before inviting the diasporan youth to come? And he offers some disturbing statistics. A recent poll conducted among the youth in the three republics in the Caucasus region has revealed the following sad picture: 40 percent of the young people polled in Armenia have expressed the desire to leave the country permanently, whereas in Georgia 14 percent have expressed the same desire and in Azerbaijan, only 12 percent.
In the young people’s perception, Armenia remains a less desirable country to live in than its two neighbors.