A Better Way to Aid Citizens of Armenia

Editorial 6 December 2009

Many Diaspora Armenians who care for the future of the Republic of Armenia (RoA), Artsakh, and that of the Armenian nation, have been heaving on the horns of a dilemma in recent years, particularly since the Armenia-Turkey Protocol controversy.”We care for the welfare of Armenia but…”

The “but” stands for the incompetent at best, corrupt at worst ROA governments which have mismanaged Armenia’s affairs since independence almost two decades ago.

Should Diaspora Armenians continue to provide assistance–financial, technical, educational, promotional, etc. when the country is run by an incestuous cabal of mafia leeches and Armani-clad gangsters? Should Diaspora Armenians send funds to the motherland when the oligarchs skim a significant portion of that money? Will this complacent “cost of doing business” continue interminably?Some Diaspora Armenians have “resolved” the above quandary by choosing diametrically opposite options. One group has decided not to assist ROA so long as the country is run by Grade A hooligans. Others have decided to continue to assist Armenia no matter what. The latter group has made the case that the curtailment of Diaspora support would hurt, above all, the ordinary citizens of Armenia who are already hurting economically, politically, culturally… The same group of people also maintains that it would be the height of irresponsibility to abandon ROA at a time when its very existence is being threatened by Turkey and Turkey Jr.–Azerbaijan. People who share the same stand also believe in the concept of “trickle down” economy–even if the lion’s share of the assistance is lifted by a corrupt administration–eventually some of the money will reach the hands of those who need it most, this group likes to believe.Other voices–luckily a minority–preach a violent overthrow of the government, possibly with the help of the army. “A bullet in the head of Serzh Sargsyan” would solve the problem, these extremists say. They, of course, have no clue that the “disease” in Armenia is not confined to one man.

Is there a more sensible option than the above?

Since widespread corruption, lack of transparency and accountability in the ROA government are not mere allegations but indisputable facts, Diaspora Armenians should devise new ways to help their brethren in the motherland.

The Diaspora should work with existing non-governmental officers (NGOs), establish new NGO institutions, train individuals or groups of individuals for specialties much needed in Armenia and the neighbouring countries . Through these NGOs, Diaspora organizations should establish employment, social services, welfare and skills-teaching offices to directly assist needy families and individuals.

The Hamahaygagan fundraising organizations have the right idea, but more needs to be done. Let’s by-pass the smooth-talking gangsters, and let’s form a direct pipeline from Diaspora to the ordinary citizens of Armenia, without the benefit of interference from the vultures.

Keghart.com Team

Previous Editorials

  1. That would be excellent
    That would be excellent; at least people would know for sure the money is reaching the needy people.

  2. Stop handouts

    My several visits to Spitak and other tragedy stricken areas have made me a firm believer that Diaspora should stop its aids to ROA. Not even with their drip drop donations to individuals and relatives here and there. 

    We have caused our people to get used to our little handouts and letting their corrupt government get away with masive robberies and looting of the nation in its extremes.

    Let the great mass suffer a bit and feel the pressure, so that people would be compelled to topple their current traitors, and or any other government which is incapable or unwilling to  clean up the mess. 

  3. We adopt families directly. 
    We adopt families directly.  Some are in need of funds for their children to be able to continue in school, some need medical attention.  All help is direct.

    1. Dear Kevork How does one
      Dear Kevork
      How does one "adopt" a family in Armenia? Is there a contact who can facilitate? What’s the procedure?

  4. Aid to Armenia
    I fully agree with and endorse the suggestion that NGO’s are a better vehicle to help Armenia  at this particular time. I do not agree with the idea that help to Armenia should stop, because of widespread corruption. After all, Armenia and of course Artsakh are our sacred trusts.

    After the Parliamentary assassinations, realizing that things will not change easily in Armenia, my family and I decided to go with NGO’s. Today, there are many respectable and honourable people (particularly the young) who are volunteering and working for many NGO’s, who need financial assisstance from the Diaspora.

    My experience with three NGO’s that I have been dealing with are proof positive of the quality and the professionalism of the people who run them.

    Any person or group looking to invest in Armenia’s future, should strongly consider to support the NGO(s) of their choice.

    1. Dear Haig, can you give us
      Dear Haig, can you give us the names and addresses of some of the reputable NGOs operating in Armenia? Is there a list of the ones which have a consistently good record?

  5. Help the Malnourished Children
    To my Dear International and American  Hye Friends,

    Each year in December, we are all inundated with deserving Hye charitable causes that we wish we could support.

    There is an IRS approved 501c(3)  Organization known as the “Bay Area Friends of Armenia” whose primary function has been feeding the children and elderly in  Armenia. All Administrative expenses are paid by the Board Members, so 100% of any contribution goes toward feeding the poor…. at $ .83 cents per meal!  

    The poverty level in Armenia is most severe at over 40%. As a result, children, the future of our Hye Culture,  are malnourished.

    We are so Blessed to be living in the Western Nations of the World.

    Please consider, during these difficult economic times, making  a contribution to this worthy Charity. Send what you can, every dollar counts.

    Make Checks Payable to:
    “BAFA”, (Bay Area Friends of Armenia)
    PO Box 3584
    Daly City, CA 94015

    With Blessings of the Season to you and your Family.

    Charles – USA

  6. Should we send help?

    This is a gut wrenching dilemma. On the one hand you have a large number of families who need help and on the other hand government officials, mafiosi and their spoiled brats running around in hummers. These guys will take their money and leave Armenia for good at the first sign of trouble.

    There are also those shameless thousands of citizens of Armenia who are spending untold sums of money to vacation in Turkey.

    I believe there is no shortage of money in Armenia and I also believe it’s about time we stop throwing our hard earned money into a bottomless pit.

    Let the people of Armenia start learning how to solve their own problems.

  7. NGO’s are the way to go. But
    NGO’s are the way to go. But also, go with your money and make sure it is put to good use. For six of the past seven years I have been going to Armenia on two week long home-building missions. I have personally experienced the gratification of using my money, time, and labor to help a villager family build a comfortable home. In my mind, there’s no better way to ensure that Hayastantzis have a reason to stay in the country. Go to http://www.fullercenterarmenia.org . Sign up for a trip. And be prepared to have a life-altering experience.

  8. Excellent editorial, but…

    Dr. Abrahamian and friends at Keghart.com:

    congratulations on a well done editorial. Indeed, Keghart.com has been among a very few independent Armenian groups world-wide that have consistently raised the issue of governance in Armenia. You need to be commended for that.

    Responding to some of the comments, I have a couple of points to add here, however, since I am worried that we are making the same mistake all over again:

    (1) Until we acknowledge that we all have been quiet accomplices of what’s been happening in Armenia, we are doomed to repeat the same mistake again. By action or inaction—by pouring money without oversight (Kirkorian-style) where checks-and balances would have been required, or by not raising flags about large- and small-scale wrong-doings and instead indirectly encouraging human right violations and further corruption (AGBU- and AAA-style)—we have contributed to what’s happening in Armenia now. And it’s not only corruption that I am talking about. It’s also the incompetence and lack of capacity in the government that we have consistently tolerated at the expense of our elderly, our children, and our country’s future. Which one of you would have tolerated the kind of leadership of economic/developmental/social/educational aspects of your own countries the way these areas are handled in Armenia? I bet very few among Keghart’s readership would. Why be quiet about these same issues in the context of Armenia? So I would welcome some expressions of self-criticism (of the Diaspora) here as a starting point.

    (2) The best mechanism of "engagement" with Armenia that we have come up with during the past 20 years is benevolent giving!! How pathetic (please excuse my language) compared to what other nations have been able to accomplish given our much stronger initial "fundamentals"….!! At the age of globalization and transnationalism, we have not managed to build any effective pan-Armenian bodies, financial institutions, or any policy think-tanks to help us navigate through difficult times in terms of ideas or economically. It is for this very reason that when push comes to shove, instead of relying on some of these institutions for advice and leverage, we are pulling out, discontinuing our engagement with our motherland. This is not even a third best outcome, as fellow economists would say! Instead of acknowledging mistakes and finding better ways to stay the course, it appears that others are advocating—directly or indirectly—for the continuation of the same model….for more "selective" benevolence. This sounds like a bad joke to me. How about supporting those who fight the regime? After all, what the regime steals from people of Armenia, Diaspora will never be able to substitute—it’s simply beyond the Diaspora’s means to do so. Plus, it encourages the same kind of behavior on the part of Armenia’s leadership. So we need to think about strengthening institutions/organizations that fight the regime, in a hope that some day when Armenia has a better government, Diaspora won’t have to do things that are the government’s direct responsibility and within its means.

    So fellow Diaspora Armenians, please do yourselves a favor and try to get the most bang for your buck—fight for a government that doesn’t steal, instead of trying to fill up the hole it creates every day. I assure you, none of you has the amount of money to fill up that hole: neither individually, nor as a community.

    Again, kudos to Keghart.com for starting this discussion.

  9. Before my comments get

    Before my comments get misinterpreted, let me add that the list of institutions/individuals worthy of your support includes independent journalists, human rights NGOs, and independent policy think-tanks.
  10. Goods and Support – NOT Money

    The Diaspora should reduce the money flow to Armenia and use its considerable influence to start breaking Armenia’s monopolies. Diaspora groups should be formed with strong leaders and with recipient groups within the lesser privileged in Armenia. Deliveries of goods and materials (sugar, butter, flour, cooking oil, etc.) should be made through these groups and be either distributed freely or sold to the benefit of the recipient groups. The entire operation needs to be overseen by the Diaspora, to ensure the recipients are allowed to operate within the law and without external pressure from the regime, its oligarchs and cronies.


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