Armenian citizenship for money? Currently under discussion
Armenian citizenship for money?
Citizens of Armenia voted 244 against to 10 in favor of a project in which foreigners who invest $150,000 in the country’s economy will be able to obtain citizenship in a simplified manner, the draft having been published for public discussion on the e-draft website. Those against are concerned that Turks and Azeris will be able to become Armenian nationals.
Economy Minister Vahan Kerobyan says that both the police and the National Security Service will develop the necessary procedures to neutralize all risks.
Details of the project, the arguments of those who oppose it, and “expert” opinion.
What contribution will make it possible to obtain citizenship
The draft, published on the website e-draft.am, stipulates “granting citizenship in a simplified manner” to those who have made a significant contribution in the fields of economy, science, education, culture, health and sports.
A significant contribution to the economy will be considered an investment in the amount of at least $150,000.
To obtain RA citizenship in a simplified manner, a foreign citizen must:
- provide free of charge to a fund established to carry out activities in the field of education or science,
- invest in a commercial organization for a period of at least 10 years,
- purchase government bonds for a period of at least 7 years,
- purchase real estate for a period of at least 10 years,
- invest in any investment fund (approved by the state) for a period of at least 10 years.
In addition, an investor may establish a company in Armenia in the field of information technology with a capitalization of $1 million or more. In this case, one more condition is given: “the center of the founder’s vital interests must be in Armenia.”
- establish in Armenia a branch of a foreign IT company with a capitalization of $100 million or more, employing 500 or more employees,
- create a venture capital fund with a capital of $80 million or more,
- invest $100,000 or more in a high-tech company or venture capital funds,
- have 20 or more years of experience in advanced technology and/or information technology companies listed on the New York, Frankfurt or London stock exchanges,
- carry out long-term (at least 5 years) cooperation activities in the international structures of the postal industry, and financial and logistical investments in the field in the amount of at least $250,000
“It is not the case that everyone who applies will receive citizenship”
Armenian Economy Minister Vahan Kerobyan told journalists that not everyone who applies will receive citizenship. He stressed that Armenia encourages investments in the country’s economy, both large companies and individuals.
According to the minister, with this project the government is also trying to attract Armenians who are citizens of other countries back to their homeland.
“Thus we can make certain categories of people citizens of Armenia, and they will be able to play a big role in the country’s economy,” Vahan Kerobyan said.
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“Shameful project” – Armenians’ opinion
Discussion of the project on the website e-draft.am began quite recently and will continue until October 27. At the time of publication, the majority of Armenian citizens were against its adoption. Here are some of the opinions expressed there:
“For only $150,000, Turks and Azerbaijanis will be able to become citizens of the Republic of Armenia and participate in elections, they will be able to elect the leader of the Republic of Armenia. When Nikol [Pashinyan] said that they plan to increase the population of the Republic of Armenia to 5 million people by 2050, it turns out that he meant that they would be Turks.”
“This is a disgraceful project. Granting citizenship for money is tantamount to selling the Motherland.”
“Other things being equal, I would be for the project, but now I am against it, because it does not provide for the security issues of the RA. And this makes the country vulnerable to enemy states: Azerbaijan, Turkey. We are not a country of 80 million people for this project to be suitable and safe.”
“Introduce restrictions on citizens of all those countries or representatives of those peoples who directly carried out, sponsored or otherwise participated in the war, aggression against the Republic of Armenia, encouraged hostility against the Republic of Armenia and the Armenian people.”
“150 thousand dollars today is just a two-room apartment in Yerevan. Such an investment is not at all equivalent to obtaining citizenship.”
According to economist Aghasi Tavadyan, over the past year and a half thousands of people have arrived in Armenia and settled there, mostly from Russia. It focuses on the fact that some of them have also moved their business there — that is, they have medium-term or long-term plans related to Armenia.
“Giving the opportunity to become an Armenian citizen can solve several problems. First, to make it even more attractive for them to stay in the RA. The second is to solve the demographic problem by increasing the number of Armenian citizens,” the economist stressed.
He approves of the project and says time will tell how it goes.
According to economist Armen Ktoyan, a similar practice exists in different countries of the world, known as “golden ticket” schemes. But he notes that in the case of Armenia there are risks that are not present in other states. He believes that in Armenia, in addition to investment attractiveness, the security situation should also be taken into account.
He says that citizenship cannot be granted immediately and thoughtlessly.
“Becoming a citizen means that the center of a person’s economic interests is in this country, and this implies that one must manage real estate, live there,” the economist said.
Armenian citizenship for money?