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Commentary- How Long Will Armenia Remain a Welfare State?
by Joseph Vosbikian

In the May 2001 issue of AIM Magazine, there was a commentary entitles "Looking for God" by Hrair Sarkis Sarkissian. It described the impoverished conditions in which many survivors from the December 7, 1998 earthquake are still living today.

As things stand today, it is hard for me to understand why fourteen years after the earthquake, there are still people over there living in shipping containers. Shame on Armenia!

In still another article near the front of the same issue, there was another commentary entitled "Containers, Containers, Containers" ­ "Help Them get Out." In it, the writer pleads with Diaspora Armenians to purchase a one-, two-, or three-bedroom apartment left vacant by migrating Armenians, and then turn it over to a container family.

Understandably, the individual who wrote this article meant well. And even more understandably, it would be a way of getting these unfortunates out of shipping containers, but this is not a long-term solution. In reality, however, the responsbility for this problem should be placed at the doorstep of Armenia¹s government. I call it "gross negligence."

As for our Diaspora Armenians getting them out of their containers, I believe my father said it best when he used to tell us, "Ayn panuh vor tseree eh arzhek chuni." (That which is free has no worth.)

To begin with, how could Armenia's government knowingly allow these people to go on living under such conditions? And if charitable Armenians have to bail them out of something that is the government¹s responsibility, where¹s there Armenian pride?

In Armenia today, there is an enormous disparity between "haves" and "have-nots." If anything, it magnifies their ineptness to self-govern. They have yet to learn that true democracy is not intended for a select few, but for their entire population as a whole.

No doubt, when Armenia fell victim to that earthquake in 1988, followed by their declaration of independence in 1990, there was need for outside help. Even now, after fourteen years, Armenia still needs a great deal of outside help. But outside help is intended for such time as it takes for its receiver to survive on its own.

Judging by this container issue, however, if Armenia hasn't been able to supply a simple thing like basic housing for its earthquake survivors after fourteen years, with all the diasporan help they have already received, then the prognosis for her future as a democratically independent nation doesn't look very good. And I sincerely hope that I am wrong. But until such time as it takes for me to be convinced otherwise, I will be wondering: How long is it going to take for Armenia to start getting off of welfare?

(Huntington Valley, PA taken from the Armenian Reporter)

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