The mayhem and indiscriminate violence that define Syria’s civil war could not crush their entrepreneurial spirit: yet for some Syrian-Armenian refugees, the shakedown practices that are part of Armenia’s economic environment are more than they can bear.
Multiple Syrian-Armenian newcomers who started new ventures in Armenia in recent months complain that the hassles they encounter on a regular basis are so bad, they are considering seeking a new country to call home.
Armenian government representatives, eager to see Diaspora Armenians return to their ancestral homeland, are downplaying problems. Yet, in interviews with EurasiaNet.org, 12 Syrian-Armenian refugees from Syria’s largest city, Aleppo, offered a laundry list of complaints about doing business in Armenia: the alleged use of physical attacks and threats by customers when differences arise; the need for family or personal connections; the 20% Value Added Tax, and a lack of economic “prospects,” were among the many problems cited.
Michel Sarkoian, an auto-parts storeowner from Aleppo, says he is surprised by “the morals and manners common in Armenia.” He claimed that locals in the village of Ptghunk, 11 kilometers outside of Yerevan, where his store is located, have demanded that he give expensive parts for free to so-called “good fellows,” the term used for followers of thieves-in-law, or organized-crime groups. After he refused the demands, he said, threats at gunpoint began.
One customer, after not receiving a refund for an item Sarkoian alleges was not purchased at his store, returned with a friend carrying a sub-machine gun “and then tried to run me over with his car,” Sarkoian alleged.
“We’ve escaped gunfire and shootings to find shelter in Armenia and now they are threatening us here,” he complained…
* * *
This is an interesting piece. I have read many horror stories about the former Soviet Union (Eastern Europe, being under Communism for a shorter time, seems better). I do not know why they are so bad. I have read a few books on Russia, but frankly, they picture a world so depressing I do not enjoy reading about it. I don’t dislike Russia: I have always been fascinated with it and I hate to see what is happening there now.
I am just speculating of course, but could it be that Communism rips a society to shreds, trying to create a Utopia? Old customs and manners are lost, and are apparently are impossible to rebuild after 70 years. The places are violent and lawless (in the sense that the law is arbitrarily applied).
Since the Syrian Armenians are from the same ethnic group, it looks like it is not something genetic.