10 reasons for Armenia to step away from short-sighted policy

10 reasons for Armenia to step away from short-sighted policy

Baku, Azerbaijan, Sept. 7

By Azer Ahmadbayli – Trend:

Within the first half of 2017, Armenia’s permanent population has decreased by 6200 people, National Statistical Service of RA says. The figure comes from the difference between the negative net migration rate, which was -8700 people, and the natural growth rate accounted for 2500 people.

Special emphasis on the migration problem in Armenia must be made, as this indicator grows rapidly and is gradually becoming a real issue for the country’s economy and defense capacity.

Facts don’t lie, especially those from trustful international sources. The chart below showcases the whole picture, as we compare Armenia to Azerbaijan:

Armenia

Azerbaijan

1990

2016

1990

2016

Population, total (millions)

3.54

2.92

7.16

9.76

Population growth (annual %)

0.0

0.3

0.4

1.2

Share of Population Below the National Poverty Line (%)

..

29.8

..

4.9

Unemployment rate, total (%)

..

18.5

..

5

GNI, PPP (current international $) (billions)

8.24

26.33

25.18

157.43

Life expectancy at birth, total (years)

68

75

65

71

GDP (current US$) (billions)

2.26

10.55

8.86

37.85

Military expenditure (% of GDP)

2.1

4.1

2.5

3.6

Foreign direct investment, net inflows (BoP, current US$) (millions)

2

338

..

4,500

Net migration rate (migrant(s)/1,000 population)

-5.7

0

Sources: World Bank, Asian Development Bank, CIA World Fact Book

It is noteworthy that most of the latest available data are for year 2016, but some refer to 2015.

Armenia has reached an impasse in its short-sighted policy. The country managed to turn once friendly Azerbaijan into its enemy, being sure that it will easily seize Nagorno Karabakh – the internationally accepted part of Azerbaijan’s territory - on the ground that the majority of population there has been of Armenian origin.

Don't listen to anyone who says Armenians felt inferior to Azerbaijanis during the 70 year of the Soviet era. Neither is it ethnic or religious conflict as there were thousands of mixed marriages in both countries. It is called territorial claims.

Armenia is a country without its own voice, the global powers are exploiting it as the region’s loyalty trader.

I have no idea how many Armenians realize that it is much better to live in peace with their neighbors, as it had been some time before in the past, rather than chase a shadow of “the Great Armenia”. The former Armenian president Levon Ter-Petrosyan once voiced the idea of finding common ground with Azerbaijan, and he paid for it – by losing his presidential post.

Today there is nobody in Armenian society who dares to voice publicly a root cause of the nation’s deteriorating performance as it is – occupation of another country’s territory.

Economic discontent made Armenians come out on streets twice within the last years to put end to their worsening conditions of life (events of the so-called “Electromaydan” in 2015, and “Sasna Tsrer” in 2016). They protested about Serzh Sargsyan’s rule but they never ever highlighted why they turned out to be in such a grave situation.

Thus, at the time being people of Armenia and the ruling regime are not prepared to face the truth.

But, let’s put emotions aside and look at a picture that is gradually taking shape. It is far from being in favour of Armenia. The gap between the two economies is growing from year to year and this will most likely go on. Figures shown in the chart are the first signs of Armenia’s fall, and this is a key factor that will sooner or later make Armenia change its aggressive policy.

Enter Armenian diaspora. It is the most pragmatic part of Armenians as it has good experience how to survive and succeed in other countries, and can better assess the risks Armenia is facing. The diaspora has a significant influence in Armenia. In addition, the Diaspora does not depend on the process of parliamentary or presidential elections in Armenia and consequently it feels free in taking decisions.

I believe that Armenian diaspora is the one that could bring the future Armenian government to terms, when its most powerful representatives are definitely sure that Armenia will not come out victorious in the face-off with Azerbaijan. This is a cynical approach but it is what we have at hand.

However, the chiefs of the diaspora should hurry up because while they are playing for time, their young nationals die every day at the armed forces contact line, and economy of their motherland is gradually going downhill.

Azerbaijan offers negotiations, peaceful resolution of the conflict and is even prepared to giv Armenians opportunity to save face, but they should get a move on and withdraw their armed forces from occupied Azerbaijani territories. Time is ticking away.

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