Prepared by CRRC-Armenia International Fellow Benjamin Barnard
Representatives of ETF partner countries (Armenia, Georgia, Moldova, Morocco, Tunisia, and Egypt) participated in a Migration and Skills seminar, organised by the European Training Foundation (ETF) in Turin (March 6-7, 2012). The conference focussed upon the migration dialogue of the European Union, as well as that of EU institutions and other international organisations, who gathered during the two-day seminar to share their knowledge regarding legal circular migration. The aim was to identify ways of creating win-win-win situations for both receiving and sending countries and for migrants. Special attention was paid to pre-departure migrants and the reintegration of returnees.
Part of the seminar was dedicated to the preliminary findings of the Migration surveys conducted in Armenia and Georgia (the Armenian element having been conducted in autumn 2011 by CRRC-Armenia). Dr. Heghine Manasyan gave a presentation on the survey’s preliminary findings. It was hoped that these findings might prove useful in guiding future policy-making.
"There are a lot of statements, papers, etc... it is all very politicised, so you really need to go back to reality, know what happens on the ground, have concrete figures, see concrete problems," said Miriam Brewka Pino of the European External Action Service (EEAS). "What we need are concrete migration facts, because when it comes to migration the devil lies in the details."
Ms. Brewka Pino’s comments could hardly have been closer to the truth when it comes to the Caucasus region. Armenia and Georgia have experienced pervasive levels of migration, with 25% of their citizens having emigrated at one time or another.
Of course, there exist different types of emigration, and many of those who leave Armenia in search of work end up returning. What is important, then, is to understand the motivation of those who leave.
Many of the survey’s findings will not surprise those living in Armenia. Although 34% of Armenians are currently seriously considering emigration, this seems to be a reflection of the country’s difficult economic situation (see previous CRRC blog post); with around half of all respondents citing their inability to find employment in their homelandas their primary motivation for leaving.
Russia was the most popular destination among both potential (57%) and returning (84.8%) migrants, with the country’s construction industry providing the primary source of income for Armenian immigrants.
The results imply that Armenians settle well in their new-found environment, with over 96% of returning migrants stating that termination of their employment (either through sacking or the natural culmination of their contract) was their primary reason for returning - compared to just 3.9% in Georgia. There were almost no cases of Armenians returning because of pressure from their families or homesickness.
Just as Armenia’s economic situation is the primary motivation behind migration, it can also be identified as the reason for this lack of a desire among emigrants to return. With over 58% of returnees not having worked since arriving back in the country, this can hardly be of great surprise.
Perhaps, then, there is a more positive way of looking at the results for Armenia. It is encouraging that no respondents mentioned cultural dissatisfaction or fear of persecution among the primary reasons behind their intention to move abroad. This demonstrates that, when it comes to emigration levels, Armenia is a victim of circumstance – and circumstances are much more amenable to change than cultures.
For a comprehensive breakdown of the preliminary results, see:
A more in-depth analysis of the survey findings in Armenia and Georgia will be available in the special country reports, which will be published in the second half of 2012.