The authorities strongly disagree
Armenian authorities suggest merging 328 communities throughout the country in order to get 34 of them. The community amalgamation program is expected to be completed by the end of next year. This issue has already been put on the National Assembly’s agenda and lawmakers are not only familiar with it, but they have already considered it.
Meanwhile, the residents of the villages, subject to amalgamation, have expressed their discontent with the aforesaid. Some protest rallies have been organized, namely, the residents of about 20 villages in Gegarkunik province have blocked the central highway in protest against the amalgamation program. They believe the program will prevent the development of the border villages and trigger a new wave of migration.
They also note that the government didn’t even ask their opinion in this regard. “The only thing that this amalgamation will lead to is that one will have to get a car to travel to the head of the amalgamated community administration for yet another certificate. This will finally destroy our village,” said one of the residents.
The opposition also expressed concern, referring to the fact that many employees of rural administrations would lose their jobs, since the program also provides for the merging of local government agencies. Also, there would be problems with distribution of the communities’ budgets.
The authorities, in turn, are sure that the merging process will increase the community management efficiency, will help to economize their resources and provide more possibilities for investments.
According to Vache Terteryan, the Deputy Minister of Territorial Administration and Development, the community amalgamation program will boost, rather than diminish, the rights and opportunities of the residents of rural and urban areas.
“None of the villages will be ‘closed’, their traditions won’t be violated and their self-identity will in no way be diminished,” he said.
Terteryan also stated that local schools wouldn’t be shut down either and children wouldn’t have to travel to neighboring villages to attend classes.