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Dual Citizenship


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Posted 05 October 2000 - 03:14 AM

This is not a new topic, but in light of Kocharianīs promise to bring it forward in Novemeber it is probably worth discussing it.

My take: citizenship should be based on blood ties or long term residence; voting rights only for citizens living in Armenia; military service remains compulsory; citizenship should be automatic and free for genocide survivors.

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Posted 05 October 2000 - 06:09 AM

Boghos,

I think this is one of the most complex legislative issues facing the Republic of Armenia. Let me add also one more issue for discussions along the lines of citizenship -taxation, for now.

I will write my thoughts in more details a bit later, when my head is clear.

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Posted 05 October 2000 - 07:15 AM

I have had this talk before. The republic of Armenia is not obliged to give each Armenian citizenshio, nor it is likely to happen. Armenia is not capable of absorbing more population. The most important task of Armenia's auythorities would be to bring security and economic prosperity for her population.

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Posted 05 October 2000 - 10:20 AM

I am sorry, Iranyar: "Armenian is not capable of absorbing more population". If anything Armenia has exactly the opposite problem, population exodus. Moreover being an Armenian citizen does not mean necessarily being a resident of Armenia.

The RofA is not obliged to do anything. This is a topic that has been discussed for many years already. It just seems to be heating up a bit now.

The issue of citizenship is not a purely emotional one. I am myself critical of the souvenir type citizenship, nevertheless there are a number of other issues surrounding it. It can be done in a constructive fashion.

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Posted 05 October 2000 - 12:33 PM

Dear Boghos,

This is my first try to discuss the issue you have raised. I think it is so complex, it is going to take many discussions, back and forth.

Letís imagine that Armenia allows dual citizenship, which on an emotional level I am quite supportive of.

But letís first notice that some countries with significant Armenian population donít allow dual-citizenship, themselves. If I remember correctly, Syria belongs to this list, for example. Therefore, the institution of dual-citizenship is not going to be a universal panacea for the Diasporan Armenians. Also, even with the countries that do allow dual-citizenship, there are going to be numbers of constitutional contradictions as it pertains to holding elective offices, serving in the army, etc.

I think the following issues have to be addressed on an institutional level:

1. Conscription to the army of the Republic of Armenia;

As we know, it is mandatory for the citizens of Armenia. Now, I donít believe the Government of Armenia can practically enforce it with the citizens, who hold also other countryís citizenship. This is going to generate two types of citizens Ė ones that serve in the army, and others that donít. I think it is going to have demoralizing effect in a multiple of ways.

2. Residence issues

I am convinced that for long time to come, the majority of dual citizens are going to reside outside Armenia. I have met a lot of Diasporan Armenian who feel very sensitive about the Armenian citizenship issue, but in most of the cases, they have told me that they would like to die and be buried in Armenia, but havenít met many who would like to live in Armenia. One of the concerns of Armenian leading politicians has been that most of the dual citizens are going to be involved with Armenian politics once every four years Ė during the elections, and probably are not going to bear the responsibility, or experience the consequences for their vote. I think these insinuations are not totally groundless.

3. Taxation

Armenia still doesnít have mutual agreement on voiding double-taxation with USA, and other countries (cannot speak for Russia Ė donít know). Obviously this issue also needs to be addressed.

Without addressing any of the issues above, the dual citizenship indeed will look like souvenir citizenship.

Finally, institutionally speaking, even if theoretically acceptable solutions to these issues are given, it will be incredibly difficult for Armenia to implement them. There are many issues that come with citizenship. For example, if an Armenian citizen is being tried in a court of foreign country, it will drag Armenia into the process. Armenia cannot afford it. With the scattering of Armenians around the world, and the fact that there are more Armenians outside Armenia than inside, I see only problems for Armenia with the dual citizenship.

In your message you mention a couple of circumstances, when the citizenship may be granted. I think in these situations, the current law allows granting citizenship, assuming I guess that one renounces his/her other citizenship.

I am sure my answers are not going to be found satisfactory, since there is a lot more to it than was discussed, but to summarize, I think it is not practical and expedient for the republic of Armenia to accept dual-citizenship. R. Kocharian, under the pressure of Diasporan organization may go for it, but I think it will be the beginning of institutional nightmare.


[This message has been edited by MJ (edited October 05, 2000).]

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Posted 05 October 2000 - 01:12 PM

MJ you bring up interesting points, but you didnít point out to positive sides of dual citizenship. There are examples in modern world that show that if correctly applied dual citizenship can be a major asset for the country. Take an Israeli example. They do allow a dual citizenship, and yet they still have a compulsory conscription in their army. By allowing dual citizenship Armenia will create more opportunities for diaspora communities to be connected to their homeland. You have to realize that many diasporans feel more connected to Armenia, than to the countries they live in. It will also boost the economic activities in Armenia, since easier access to the country will help Armenian businessman to make more investments. Also, the capital invested by Armenian businessman will be in less liquid assets, considering the emotional attachment to diasporans to Armenia. This will avoid the flight of capital in critical economic times (thatís what happened in Mexico in 95). I am not big proponent to privatization of assets to foreign companies, whose outlook is very short term. I think using diasporan capital will allow the government to plan to fully realize development potential of our nation. Armenian government should embrace the diaspora, and develop symbiotic relationships with it. Diaspora is asset Armenian government can not afford to ignore.

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Posted 05 October 2000 - 02:32 PM

Alpha, don't get me wrong. In my heart I am very much for it. I just think it is very hard to implement, and will be an institutional nightmare, as I mentioned in the previous message. But if you are aware of a robust mechanism, I would very much be supportive of it.

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Posted 05 October 2000 - 04:26 PM

Dear MJ, Alpha,

I do believe that this is essentially a political question and that Kocharian will go for it to appease the diaspora.

As to the taxation issue there are a number of ways of dealing with it, such as time of residence within the fiscal year and others. At this point in time, Armenia does not yet have an efficient tax collection system, so by the time it becomes a practical issue I think we will have already sorted out a number of other much more pressing issues.

Military service is indeed a very serious issue. And I cannot argue for anything else but equality before the law for everybody. Hence the most patriotic and militant diasporan Armenians might have the chance to serve the national army, not an altogether bad idea. The army has a bad reputation in the way it treats conscripts, but well, thatīs another topic altogether. Most new citizens will likely be older Armenians...

As to the legal side of the story I wouldnīt worry about it, many countries do not dispense any help (in some cases just hazards) to their citizens abroad. This will be the case for Armenia.

It is true that there are countries that do not accept double citizenship, but in practice there is very little they can and do about it.

However I am very skeptical on the economic incentive of citizenship. I think the changes we need are of a structural nature in order to encourage diasporan investment in much larger scale.

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Posted 05 October 2000 - 04:31 PM

bavakanin lav garaparner yev verlutsumner , yes inks el k@tsankanayi linel Yerk-Qaraqatsy, inchpes verevum nshvets Izraeli qaraqatsiner@ unen iys hnaravorutyun@.
inchu che Tarekan Yekamtaharki vorosh mas@ kareli e iyd depkum orinakanoren vcharel Hayastanin , vstah em bazmativ Hye Gortsater yev inchu miyayn gortsaterer indz yev dzez n@man sovorakan mrdik el irents Tax-er@ kurren Hayastanin yev kam k@bajanen inchvor mi dzev, poxanak kaskatsely nviratsvutyuner anelu iys kam iyn kusaktsakan @enkerutyan ,

metsins hajuykov klineyi yerkqaraqatsy,
yev vorpes Avelatsum

Alpha jan >> " Diaspora is asset Armenian government can not afford to ignore or loos . sa yerekkormani e/ Hayastan@ aranst Spyurki & Spyurk@ Aranst HAyastani shat yerkar chen karor dimanal .

Barlis

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Posted 05 October 2000 - 04:31 PM

Dear Boghos,

I have no principal arguments. If there is a mechanism addressing the above mentioned issues, and it can be efficiently implemented, I will be very supportive of it.

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Posted 05 October 2000 - 04:49 PM

Citizenship of republic of Armenia is one thing and being Armenian another thing. It is not fair that a lot of not-hayastantsi's get political rights to influence the life of Hayastantsi's while they don't live in Hayastan.

And secondly they can allways go to republic of Armenia on pilgrimmage without having the citizenship of the republic of Armenia. And as I've heard the republic of Armenia is not reluctant in this respect

#12 Guest__*

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Posted 06 October 2000 - 03:43 AM

Dear MJ,

Could you please, if at all possible, give us an insight on how Armenians in Armenia are looking at this issue (if they are at all bothering with it at the moment )?

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Posted 06 October 2000 - 03:51 AM

Dear Boghos,

I am the wrong person to answer this question. Have been out of Armenia for almost 10 years. Probably Berj may know better.

But I remember the discussions of the political circles, when the law on citizenship was being drafted.

At that time, the single most major treat to Armenia was considered to be ARF. This law was primarily motivated by the stance of ARF towards Armenia, and the opposite - the stance of the local political forces towards ARF.

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Posted 10 October 2000 - 10:00 AM

Reading through all of your well informed opinions, I can't help feeling rather than thinking. I don't understand why someone in the diaspora who lives, works, and otherwise fully functions in their adopted country would possibly want to be a citizen of Armenia? Citizenship isn't a political toy, it's an identity. If there are armenians in the diaspora who feel so strongly about Armenia that they want to be armenian citizens, well, at the risk of sounding rash, let them move to armenia and fully integrate themselves into the fabric of that locale. However, if they prefer to identify with another country, let them do that!! Sometimes you just can't have your cake and eat it too, I'm afraid. I have absolutely no patience with those Armenians who are basically americans yet choose to spit the U.S. in the face and maintain their armenian citizneship!! Ugh!! At the risk of sounding like a redneck, "you don't like the States, go back to wherever it is you came from!!"

That's all I have to say on this

Gayane
P.S. Even if dual citizenship were possible, I wouldn't take it. Etkan ban.

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Posted 11 October 2000 - 08:43 AM

quote:
Originally posted by MJ:
Dear Boghos,

... Probably Berj may know better.



Boghos,MJ,

In September 1999, during the Armenia-Diaspora conference, this issue was hot and in the context of general Armenian unification spirit in the air, that was the right time to start active discusions.

Presently, for the major part of population it's again in "who cares" category. With thousands leaving the country every month, it's even illogic. The government will surely face political fators while solving it, considering the existence of Armenian communities in countries with different interests.

I have no info on the current status of dual citizenship issue, but I came across some headlines recently.

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Posted 11 October 2000 - 09:34 AM

Gayane,

At the risk of getting my head blown off for popping up out of the foxhole as a newbie around here, I want to say I am 100% in agreement with you.

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Posted 11 October 2000 - 09:39 AM

Boghos-

I think it would more or less be a symbolic citizenship, nothing more than a fancy passport. How would you feel about that?

-Rich

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Posted 12 October 2000 - 02:37 AM

Dear Rich,

I see no point in transforming Armenian citizenship in a sort of souvenir. Essentially I think that the government of Armenian should make it easy for people to immigrate there and acquire citizenship.

As Berj has posted this is not an issue of much importance in Armenia today given that we continue to see an exodus from the country, and people are much more worried about their daily lives rather than this "diasporan" issue.

However in the grand scheme of things I think it is important to deal with this question once and for all.

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Posted 21 October 2000 - 09:41 PM

quote:
Originally posted by Boghos:

As Berj has posted this is not an issue of much importance in Armenia today given that we continue to see an exodus from the country, and people are much more worried about their daily lives rather than this "diasporan" issue.



Boghos jan,

You got me wrong. All the diasporian issues are of a great importance to the population of Armenia. If we look at the composition of diaspora at present: almost 70% of Armenia's population has relatives abroad. And a large number it lives by support from their relatives abroad. So they realy care.

In 1999, despite of the fact that we were on the edge of a gorge, the discussions were very active. Since 1999 we made a long jump forward. We neen to get out.

All we need (is not love) is to follow the agenda, and the issue of dual citizenship will logically be included in this agenda.

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Posted 24 October 2000 - 06:21 AM

Citizenship issue will pave the path of development for Armenia. Do we want to be like Israel or Greece. Both of them have powerful Diasporas, yet in Israel Diaspora plays a major role in decision-making process. However the Diaspora also made Israel a militant, aggressive country, which keeps local Jewish citizens in fear of their neighbors. In contrast to Israel, Greece has tried to eliminate the influence of its Diaspora. By doing that the country has significantly weakened itís influence in the region. It tries to reconcile its differences with its neighbors and become a peaceful European nation. In its strategy Israel has annexed historical Jewish lands, yet Greece has lost half Cyprus, and has no means to lay claims to historical Greek lands of Smyrna or other west Anatolian settlements. So itís a choice for Armenia, which path do we prefer. Both ways of developments have their advantages and disadvantages. Do we want to have a peaceful nation and keep our small republic, or do we want a republic thatís in constant wars with its neighbors, but will eventually expand its borders. Keep in mind that the size of the country is not indicative how powerful it is. Israel with its 20,000 sq km is more powerful than Greece with its 140,000 sq km. Iíd like to hear some other views about this topic. Yet the power of the nation is not indicative how happy its citizens are.




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