President Serzh Sarkisian urged ethnic Armenians around the world at the weekend to become citizens of Armenia and invest in its economy in large numbers, saying that would greatly contribute to “the power and prosperity of the motherland.”
Sarkisian made the appeal as he addressed several dozen Diaspora Armenians in London after attending the opening ceremony of the 2012 Olympic Games.
“Your prominent professional, economic and human abilities have already made you the participants of the great Armenian march. However today you have a new opportunity – dual citizenship,” he told a reception organized by the Armenian community in Britain.
“I don’t know how many of you in this hall hold a dual citizenship. I urge you to become citizens of the Republic of Armenia too and directly participate in all processes of the motherland building,” he said.
Armenia allowed dual citizenship as part of a package of constitutional amendments enacted in late 2005. This was supposed to strengthen the country’s links with several million Diaspora Armenians scattered around the world. Thousands of them have applied for Armenian citizenship since then.
“I have said on many occasions and repeat it now: come to the motherland, invest in the motherland,” Sarkisian said in his speech. “Make your profit and at the same time build the country of our common dream. By creating jobs, you will help to prevent emigration which is a matter of concern for us all.”
Greater Diaspora investments in the Armenian economy have been hampered by the country’s flawed business environment. Like other potential foreign investors, many Diaspora Armenians have been scared away by government corruption and other serious problems with the rule of law. Sarkisian and his government have pledged to step up their efforts to improve the domestic investment climate.
“We are ready to create opportunities for investments; we create mechanisms so that Armenians from the Diaspora can make a profitable business in Armenia,” the president said in London. “Our task is to move from charity to a mutually beneficial partnership.”