Armenia’s diaspora is renowned for maintaining strong ties to the Motherland. But members of at least one diaspora group who have returned to Armenia – Iranian-Armenians – say they are encountering difficulty in gaining acceptance in Yerevan.
Iran, which borders Armenia to the south, is home to an estimated 70,000-90,000 ethnic Armenians, descendants of those who migrated in the 17th century to then-Persia to work as craftsmen and artists. The two countries share close historic, diplomatic and economic ties. Armenia, in fact, was once part of the Persian Empire.
Even so, these days many Armenians see Iran, a Muslim society, and their own country as a world apart.
In a series of interviews with EurasiaNet.org, ethnic Armenians from Iran who have returned to Yerevan claimed that they routinely experience discrimination in Armenia. The prices they pay as “Persians” [the name often used in Armenia for Iranians] for hospital care, food staples and various retail goods can be several times more expensive as the fees charged to locals, they claimed.
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Gayane Abrahamyan is a reporter for ArmeniaNow.com in Yerevan.