Russia has answered the Armenian prime minister’s criticism of its immigration program “Compatriots”, which is believed to encourage outward migration of Armenia’s population. Its ambassador in Yerevan said the emigration of Armenians to Russia would not stop even if the controversial program had been shut down in Armenia as sought by Armenian officials.
Prime Minister Tigran Sargsyan addressed concerns over the program that offers “favorable” conditions for Armenians immigrating to Russia during a question-and-answer session of government officials in parliament last week.
He said that “the organization of such activities in the Republic of Armenia is unacceptable”. He said the government of Armenia hoped the format would not be applicable in respect to Armenia.
“The issue has been discussed with Russian counterparts at all levels, including during inter-governmental committee meetings, and the Russian government knows that we are against the implementation of the program in its present format,” stressed Sargsyan.
Reacting to the senior Armenian official’s comments different Russian media reminded the Armenian authorities that they should take care of creating conditions in their own country instead of “prohibiting” emigration through administrative means. Russia’s ambassador to Armenia Vyacheslav Kovalenko also addressed the matter at a press conference in Yerevan on Tuesday.
“No one makes Armenians go to Russia, they go there themselves,” the diplomat said.
“Is it about a representation of the migration service? Is anyone forcing Armenians to go to Russia? Do you think people will stop going there if you shut down the migration service representation?” queried the ambassador.
“People leave Armenia because they have certain objective reasons for that and not because of the Federal Migration Service,” he added.
Still last year, Kovalenko said that the immigration issue was speculated on by some forces in Armenia for the purpose of gaining “political capital”.
The program assisting voluntary immigration, through which only in 2011 as many as 2,000 Armenians settled down in Russia (the data for this year have not been published yet), has been operating since 2006. The government of Russia adopted it as a means of solving demographic problems in some of the country’s sparsely populated areas.