17. September 2010 15:25
Yerevan - a little slice of California in the Caucasus?
Ten minutes across the border from Georgia into Armenia, my taxi is pulled over by the traffic police. Out steps the archetype of the corrupt police official - big uniform, big hat, big belly. Who knew that being a policeman in provincial Armenia was so lucrative? Our crime, it seems, is that the taxi is Georgian-registered and the driver himself is Georgian. Spit spit. Actually, there's no love lost between Armenia and any of its neighbours, certainly not Turkey because of the Armenian genocide, in which up to 1,500,000 Armenians were murdered. Definitely not with Azerbaijan, with whom the dispute over the territory of Nagorno-Karabagh does not look like being settled for a very long time to come. Armenia, then, would be isolated, if it weren't for two things - firstly, its close relationship with Moscow, which posts its soldiers along Armenia's sealed borders, and, secondly, the enormous Armenian diaspora, particularly in California, whose remittances keep the country well in the green.
After a ham-fisted attempt at bribery, my taxi driver goes on the More...