Instead of fostering emigration, visa liberalization can lead to immigration15:58, December 4, 2017 | Announcements, Joint
“I am assuring you that visa liberalization is not going to occur unless Armenia fulfills the responsibilities and implements the reforms prescribed by the agreements signed with the EU,” said human rights defender Artur Sakunts in his interview to “First Informative” in response to the opinion that visa liberalization will lead to a new wave of emigration.
According to Sakunts, those who believe that visa liberalization may cause an increase in emigration, base their opinion on the thesis that the reforms prescribed by the agreement will not be implemented.
However, if democratic reforms are implemented, free and fair elections are held and the mechanisms aiming to protect human rights are strengthened, if an independent judiciary is formed, if the immunity of the institution of private ownership is secured, if human rights are protected, then visa liberalization, according to the human rights defender, is going to serve as an additional stimulus for investments, expansion of the scope of people’s cooperation as well as the realization of their potential in the country.
“However, I would like to repeat it once again that if these changes are not made, visa liberalization is not going to happen. It [the idea that visa liberalization will lead to a wave of emigration] is an imaginary pretext. Furthermore, those expressing this opinion are forgetting that in current conditions the major cause of emigration is the absence of the institutions mentioned by me and the presence of corruption. And signing the comprehensive and enhanced agreement with the EU presupposes solving the existing problems. The agreement is aimed at halting emigration, building public confidence in the state and the return of the citizens from abroad. Those insisting on the opposite are resorting to manipulation. It is the supporters of the Eurasian Economic Union and those of Putin who are expressing such opinions”, mentioned Artur Sakunts.
As mentioned by him, following the reforms, visa liberalization does not lead to people fleeing from the country but instead leads to them staying and manifesting themselves in their country. Moreover, according to Sakunts, visa liberalization may also lead to immigration. Those of our citizens who are in European countries illegally can return. They will no longer have a reason for staying there.
Demographer Artak Markosyan also mentioned in an interview to “First Informative” that everything depends on the fulfillment of the responsibilities undertaken by Armenia.
“Georgia liberalized the visa regime and, indeed, there is some increase in the emigration from Georgia. But this cannot be stated in the course of one year. It is a long-term process, following which it is possible to draw conclusions in regard to whether it has lead to emigration or not. And then, people might go to Europe, stay there for several months and then return. This means that only in a few years will it be possible to say whether people leave permanently or temporarily,” stated the demographer.
According to Artak Markosyan, Armenia has quite a large number of compatriots who are in Europe and are in danger of being deported. This problem should be tackled. “We have agreements which prescribe accepting them back. I do not know in which conditions and how this should work. However, we should first think of the fact that we have a large number of compatriots there, and they should return. This means that we have a problem of re-immigration from Europe,” said Markosyan.