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Hrant Gadarigian

Armenia’s Security Service Proposes 60-Day Visit Requirement for Armenian Citizenship

National Security Service Singles Out Armenian Applicants from Middle East as Problematic

Armenia’s National Security Service (NSS) wants to require all persons of “Armenian heritage” applying for Republic of Armenia citizenship to legally reside/stay in the country for a minimum of sixty days during two years prior to their application.

According to Article 47, Part 3 of Armenians Constitution, those of Armenian extraction have the right to acquire Republic of Armenia citizenship from the moment they settle in Armenia.

The NSS says the Law on Citizenship does not define when a person is considered to have settled in Armenia.

The NSS says it has conducted studies showing that large numbers of people claiming Armenian extraction, especially from the Middle East, apply for RoA citizenship but have never been to Armenia, or visit for short periods, and in some cases merely visit to apply for citizenship.

The NSS claims they know little of Armenian culture, are ill-informed about developments in Armenia, are not recognized as Armenians in their country of origin and do participate in Armenian community life there.

While the NSS statement doesn’t mention these countries, one can assume that Turkey is on the list since the Armenian Church there is reluctant to recognize those who haven’t been baptized as “Armenian”.

As the law now stands, acceptable proof of being “Armenian” is usually in the form of a baptismal certificate from an Armenian Apostolic Church.

The NSS also says many applicants “do not carry out pro-Armenian activities” in their country of origin.

The NSS fails to specify what it means by “pro-Armenian activities”.

The NSS adds many applicants from the Middle East (especially Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, etc.) never visited Armenia or never acquired real estate in the country after being issued citizenship. The agency claims that some merely applied for Armenian citizenship to travel to third countries.

The NSS also fails to substantiate its argument how residing in Armenia for sixty days in the span of two years will make applicants “better and more informed Armenians” in its estimation.

Furthermore, there are Armenians from Europe and the United States who have obtained Armenian citizenship who never purchase real estate in Armenia or  visit the country occasionally.

The NSS proposal must first be approved by the government and then passed by parliament.

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