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-percent Value Added Tax, and a lack of economic “prospects,” were among the many problems cited.
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Marianna Grigoryan is a freelance reporter based in Yerevan and editor of MediaLab.am.