By Atom Markarian
Prime Minister Andranik Markarian asked on Tuesday the governor of a major industrial region in Russia to let in more Armenian workers in order to alleviate Armenia’s huge unemployment.
Markarian called for an increase in Russian immigration quotas for Armenian citizens during a meeting with Eduard Rossel, the visiting governor of the Sverdlovsk Oblast, an industrial powerhouse in central Russia. Markarian’s press service said Rossel promised to “consider the matter.”
Rossel, who is one of Russia’s most famous and influential regional leaders, also met with President Robert Kocharian on the first day of his visit which officials said will help to boost economic ties between Armenia and the Urals region. The Sverdlovsk governor, accompanied by about 50 businessmen, called for the creation of Russian-Armenian joint ventures and offered the Armenian government to open a trade representation in the region’s capital, Yekaterinburg.
Rossel’s delegation also included Masis Nazarian, a leader of the region’s 20,000-strong Armenian community. Echoing Markarian’s request, Nazarian said the Armenian government should push for the simplification of registration procedures for Armenians wishing to work in the Sverdlovsk Oblast and other parts of Russia.
Russia has been the principal destination of hundreds of thousands of Armenians who have left their country since the break-up of the Soviet in search of employment abroad. They account for the bulk of multimillion-dollar cash remittances that are sent to Armenia every year.
The Armenian authorities claim to have reduced the economically motivated out-migration to a trickle in the last few years. But Markarian’s request to Rossel will be used by those who believe that Armenia’s economic growth has yet to benefit most ordinary people. The government could also be accused by its political opponents of seeking to send more Armenians abroad instead of creating badly needed jobs.
(Photolur photo: Rossel greeted by Kocharian.)