Armenia may start promoting an “Australian-style” model of development for the separatist territory of Nagorno-Karabakh.
Britain, of course, first colonized Australia in the late 1780s with ships loaded with prison convicts. The use of convict labor was seen by British officials as a cheaper alternative to slavery for creating the distant colony’s infrastructure.
Flashing forward to the present, lawmakers in Yerevan, the Armenian capital, are expected to begin debate in the near future on a bill that would give white-collar criminals the option of serving time in prison or resettling in “free territories,” a term that many Armenians believe refers mainly to Karabakh. The separatist territory broke free of Azerbaijan’s control, with Yerevan’s assistance, in the early 1990s. Efforts since then to reach a political settlement between Armenia and Azerbaijan have become stalemated.
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Marianna Grigoryan is a freelance reporter based in Yerevan.