Monday, July 12, 2004

 

Armenia

There is a very sad, but not suprising, story in the Washington Post about the exodus of Armenians out of Armenia because of the impossibility of living conditions there. Although it's not directly analagous to any other current situation, I find it interesting because it illustrates how all the sort of "victories" of nationalism aren't the kind of victories that translate into an improved life for Armenians. In a sort of ideological sense, Armenia was a great victory for Armenians. Emerging from a sort of shared memory of the Armenian Genocide, surviving Soviet control, engaging in a winning war with Azerbaijan over the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh territories where the Armenians were outnumbered by Azeri fighters and surrounded by Turkic and Muslim countries - Armenia was the plucky underdog and a point of vindication for the Armenian diaspora. Unfortunately, all that doesn't mean much when you can't afford to live there. It's pretty sad. The Washington Post article doesn't give much background, but I definitely recommend Black Garden: Armenia and Azerbaijan Through Peace and War by Thomas de Waal for those interested in a more thorough and deep understanding of how truly depressing the whole matter is. As my Armenian grandmother always used to say, a hungry man will eat rocks. It turns out that they'd actually rather move to Russia, or Vancouver, or France, or California.

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