By Anush Dashtents
An estimated 40,000 Armenian citizens presently live in Germany illegally and face the prospect of eventual expulsion to their homeland, according to a German diplomat in Yerevan.
Sabrina Schmidt, who is the third secretary at the German embassy in Armenia, said on Thursday that few of them qualify for political asylum -- the only way to legalize their residence in Germany.
Schmidt said only one Armenian family was granted political asylum in Germany last year. There were 1,239 asylum applications from Armenian nationals, she added.
Germany has been the primary destination of tens of thousands of Armenians who have migrated to the countries of the European Union over the past decade. Almost all of them have done so in the face of serious economic hardship at home. But many cite political reasons in a bid to win an EU residency permit.
Schmidt said they can not provide compelling evidence of political persecution in Armenia, which is required by German law, and are ordered to leave the country. She said there have been "regular expulsions" of Armenian asylum seekers for the past several years and they will continue in the future.
According to Schmidt, the immigrants' claims that they are persecuted in Armenia for their non-traditional religious beliefs are also "usually baseless."