Armenian Government Add Unnecessary Burdens on Already Suffering Artsakhtsis

Armenian Government Add Unnecessary Burdens on Already Suffering Artsakhtsis

By Harut Sassounian,
Publisher, The California Courier

As if the problems of displaced Artsakh Armenians were not bad enough, given their forced departure from their native land and the subsequent hardships faced by lack of housing, food, medicines and other essential items after their arrival in Armenia, the government is now creating more unnecessary difficulties for them.

Artsakh Armenians, who have been citizens of Armenia for a long time, are suddenly told by the Armenian government that they are not citizens of Armenia, even though they possess passports issued by the Republic of Armenia. Many Artsakh Armenians have used their Armenian passports for years to travel to foreign countries without any problems, which means that the authorities in Armenia and other countries accepted their passports as genuine Armenian passports. How is it possible that Artsakhtsis were citizens of Armenia while living in Artsakh, but not after they arrived in Armenia?

To make matters more confusing, the government of Armenia is now telling Artsakh Armenians that since they are not citizens of Armenia, they may apply for Armenian citizenship in the future. This is complete nonsense. How can a citizen of Armenia apply a second time for citizenship? If I, as a US citizen, apply for US citizenship for the second time, American government officials will treat me as a fool and show me the door.

I believe that the Armenian government, led by Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan, has a hidden agenda in treating Artsakh Armenians as non-citizens. He wants to make sure that during future elections in Armenia, Artsakh Armenians will be unable to vote, knowing that many of them will not vote for his political party’s candidates, since Pashinyan is the one who handed Artsakh to Azerbaijan. We now have the additional evidence that the country’s leader is not only incompetent, but also violates the country’s laws for political gain. This is confirmed by the Interior Ministry’s declaration: “A person with refugee status does not have the right to vote and be elected in national elections.”

Last week, the Republic of Armenia’s Ministry of Interior issued a statement in the format of “answers to frequently asked questions by forcibly displaced citizens of the Republic of Artsakh.” In this first sentence, there is already an error. Artsakh Armenians are citizens of Armenia, not citizens of Artsakh or Azerbaijan.

The Ministry tried to entice Artsakh Armenians to accept their refugee status, telling them that those who have the status of a refugee have no obligation to serve in the armed forces of Armenia. In other words, Artsakh Armenians, who must serve in Armenia’s armed forces as citizens of Armenia, are wrongly exempted from military service, in violation of Armenian law.

The Ministry also stated that as refugees, Artsakh Armenians have no right to own agricultural land. This provision deprives them of the ability to grow food on their own plot of land, since they do not have the necessary funds to purchase food.

The Ministry then stated that refugees cannot travel to a foreign country. This is also false, as Artsakh Armenians with their Armenian passports can travel to any country after obtaining a visa, if one is required. Some countries like Russia do not require a visa from Armenian citizens. Thousands of Artsakh Armenians have already left Armenia simply by showing their Armenian passports which means that both Armenia and other countries have recognized their passports as legitimate documents.

The Ministry then contradicted itself by stating that “should a refugee’s passport expire, it can be renewed by presenting two photos and the expired passport.” How can Artsakh Armenians renew their passports in Armenia, if they are not Armenian citizens and do not hold Armenian passports?

In a further contradiction, the Ministry stated that those Artsakh Armenians who become Armenian citizens do not lose their ability to benefit from social assistance programs for refugees. The only requirement is that they be classified as ‘displaced.’ If they do not jeopardize their right to receive assistance after becoming citizens of Armenia, why are they classified as refugees and not recognized as citizens?

Incredibly, after giving away Artsakh and repressing the rights of Artsakh Armenians to pursue any political activity in Armenia on behalf of Artsakh, the Ministry of Interior stated that their losses of property in Artsakh “does not disappear or cease to exist as a result of a change in a person’s legal status,” meaning acquiring citizenship of Armenia. It remains to be seen if the Armenian government, beyond mere words, will be willing to file lawsuits in international courts to defend the property rights of Artsakh Armenians.

Artsakh Armenians, who are citizens of Armenia, have suffered more than enough. They should not be burdened with such unnecessary bureaucratic nonsense.