By Paul Goble
Economic problems and security concerns in the wake of the fighting last year have caused a sharp increase in emigration from Armenia, with 103,000 more Armenians leaving that country than entering it during the first nine months of 2021, reversing the pattern of the previous three years when more Armenians arrived than left.
The total for 2021 may not be as devastating because Armenians working abroad on a temporary basis often return to their homeland in the fourth quarter, but at the same time, experts say, the number now leaving is probably lower than it would be were it not for pandemic restrictions (russian.eurasianet.org/в-армении-наблюдается-резкий-рост-оттока-населения).
What that suggests is that if the pandemic eases, Armenian outmigration could accelerate, further pushing down the country’s population – it has already lost more than 600,000 people since 1991 – and make it even more difficult for Yerevan to reverse its economic decline and ensure its control of many parts of the country suffering depopulation.
Most of the current outflow from Armenia is to the Russian Federation, and many Armenians who go there don’t plan to return. According to Yerevan, about 22,000 Armenians took Russian citizenship in the first half of 2021, the highest level over the last four years and one that poses serious problems for the future (azatutyun.am/a/31530758.html).
Those are of two kinds. On the one hand, it suggests that even more Armenians will leave the republic and not return; and on the other, it means that if Armenians who acquire Russian citizenship do return, they will likely feel even more linked to Russia than they had in the past and will seek to promote even closer Armenian ties with Moscow.