A Case for Armenia as a Second Citizenship Opportunity
written by A. L. Hart Havens on August 15, 2020
“Where liberty dwells, there is my country.” – Benjamin Franklin (1783)
The entire notion of obtaining a second citizenship is unfortunately so far removed from the domain of public discourse that the mere concept strikes the average person as equally foreign as the cover of a Sudanese passport. In light of this, it is also high time to dispel the sensationalist myths surrounding second passports that evoke images of international men of mystery and rogue CIA operatives. This is because the undramatic reality of the situation is that there are many viable routes to second citizenship available to high net worth individuals in addition to a more limited range of options available to people of modest means.
In further examining this topic, it is imperative to look past the outdated romanticized notion of citizenship as an unalterable birthright and to begin viewing it as a tool with the potential to unlock a plethora of lifelong international diversification opportunities. This article sheds light on the wide world of second citizenships from a utilitarian perspective and on the incredible life‑enhancing benefits of holding dual citizenship. It also showcases the country of Armenia as an appealing second citizenship destination worthy of further exploration.
Although an uninformed observer may at first glance scoff at the prospect of an Armenian passport, this is most certainly done with very little understanding of the factors that combine to create a quality second citizenship. Unfortunately, flawed conventional thinking often lures expatriation‑minded people into the trap of thoughtlessly opting for convenient second citizenships in nearby familiar countries while issuing a blanket dismissal of any country lacking the first world label.
In refuting such ill‑conceived strategies, it should be emphasized that an ideal second citizenship destination is one located outside of the cultural and geopolitical sphere of influence of the acquirer’s home country. It should also be a safe country with healthy societal and economic attitudes that issues a passport maximizing the acquirer’s international travel mobility. As the articles explains, Armenia ticks all of these boxes and many more.
Wishful Thinking and Hoping for the Best
The year 2020 has unleashed an unrelenting onslaught of severe economic and political problems onto the world that have given rise to the dismal prospect of dire consequences to come. In a matter of a few short months, the developed world has succumbed to a worldwide pandemic, nationwide lockdowns, countless business closures and bankruptcies, a skyrocketing national debt with looming hyperinflation and currency debasement, an unprecedented surge in rioting and violent crime, and the onset of a disturbing erosion of liberty, free speech, and the rule of law.
To make matters worse, politicians in western countries have amplified the misery by warming to collectivist policies of wealth redistribution and exorbitant taxation that would serve to undermine the very foundation of prosperity. As this alarming trend continues to take the developed world by storm, an individual who wishes to take responsibility for ensuring his own prosperity must understand that participation in political discourse as an informed and civic‑minded citizen offers no protection whatsoever against the ill‑effects of bad government policies.
Further, those individuals who possess the required savvy and foresight would be well‑advised to realistically assess the potential impact of such dubious trends and policies on their own personal wellbeing while making a conscious effort to refrain from both wishful thinking and unwarranted negativity.
While there is definitely merit to the advice, “Don’t obsess about events outside of your control,” these words of wisdom are often conveniently misconstrued to create the illusion that “Events outside of my control don’t affect me” or that “Events that I don’t worry about won’t affect me.” This inane logic marks a failure to grasp (or a deliberate unwillingness to acknowledge) the difference between not my fault and not my problem.
The Consequences of Complacency
It is also a lesson that many successful Cuban entrepreneurs and wealthy landowners learned the hard way in 1959 after neglecting to make reasonable expatriation preparations in the face of clear‑cut warning signs of an impending communist takeover. Although the victims of the expropriation that followed are undoubtedly deserving of sympathy, it can be argued that they also fell victim to their own inaction at a time when foresight and decisive action were imperative.
Drawing on this historical parallel, there are plenty of warning signs today placing western countries at a crossroads situation similar to that of mid‑1950s Cuba. No one can predict the course of history with absolute certainty, but it would be imprudent to assume that the seething volcano of problems at hand couldn’t possibly erupt into a slew of chaos never before seen in the modern western world.
For an astute observer capable of discerning the perfect storm brewing on the horizon, the mere possibility of the aforementioned sad state of affairs deteriorating into a thoroughly inhospitable environment should be more than sufficient motivation to abandon the folly of a wait‑and‑see approach. This holds particularly true for people living in the major English‑speaking countries and Western Europe.
Second Citizenship as an Escape Ladder Strategy
So, what could these industrious Cubans have done to avoid relinquishing their assets and their life savings? Addressing this question unavoidably draws attention to the lawful acquisition of additional citizenships as a highly effective and proven method of protecting wealth, individual liberties, and physical safety in uncertain times.
Possessing one or more additional citizenships affords an individual the luxury of relocating to a more desirable national jurisdiction at the drop of a hat and the opportunity to spread political and financial risks across borders. Although this can also be achieved to a certain extent by obtaining foreign residency permits, it is the institution of citizenship that offers the highest level of rights and protections to individuals by a national government.
The recently enacted coronavirus‑related travel restrictions which saw a number of countries refusing entry to their own permanent residency permitholders should serve as a constant reminder of the value of holding citizenships as opposed to merely residency permits. A second passport stowed securely in a home safe can provide the ultimate peace of mind in knowing that a safe harbor awaits with open arms in times of distress.
The Case for Second Citizenship in Armenia
This article features Armenia as a pursuit‑worthy second citizenship destination for libertarian‑minded individuals who are serious about establishing a permanent foothold abroad in light of the alarming economic uncertainty, political unrest, violent crime, and government overreach afflicting their home countries.
Armenia is arguably the most underrated and underdiscussed destination in the realm of second citizenships and personal international diversification. Characterized by a high degree of ethnic and social cohesion as well as an overwhelmingly Christian and conservative mindset, Armenia is both geographically and culturally worlds apart from the red‑tape bureaucracy, rapid moral decline, and endless societal and political strife plaguing the world’s foremost developed countries.
Visitors to Armenia are typically pleasantly surprised at the modern amenities, business‑friendly attitude, outstanding hospitality, and low prices that Armenia has to offer. Armenia is also considered to be one of the safest countries in the world, boasting low crime across the board and a murder rate lower than that of Belgium and Canada.
Armenia on the Map
Situated in a landlocked position halfway between the Black Sea and the Caspian Sea against the backdrop of the Caucasus Mountains, the country’s southern and eastern borders are widely viewed to constitute part of Europe’s outermost frontier. Armenia borders Georgia to the north, Turkey to the west, Iran to the south, and Azerbaijan to the east.
One remarkable aspect of Armenia’s place in the geopolitical landscape is the country’s good relations with both the United States and with Russia, China, and Iran. This seemingly astounding diplomatic feat might give rise to the assumption that Armenia is invariably on great terms with the entire world. And aside from its quite hostile relations with Turkey and Azerbaijan, Armenia indeed enjoys a positive reputation of stability and openness throughout the international community.
The Armenian Dream
Armenia gained its independence in 1991 after 70 years of Soviet rule. As many Armenians alive today have experienced the misery of a command economy first‑hand, the country has little appetite to return to communism or any of the numerous modern offshoots popular among woke western intelligentsia and millennials.
While governments of western countries are busy imposing onerous regulations on their citizenry aimed at preventing capital outflows, the Armenian government has adopted the refreshing approach of seeking to attract wealth from abroad by offering competitive conditions to foreign investors. One of the most lucrative of these conditions is undoubtedly the opportunity to naturalize as an Armenian citizen.
A small country with a population of under three million, Armenia lacks the resources, the sophistication, and the willpower required to conduct the invasive western‑style tracking of its citizens’ every step taken, purchase made, and cent earned across the entire globe.
An additional perk of Armenian citizenship is the country’s residency‑based taxation system, meaning that Armenian citizens residing outside of the country are not burdened with the requirement to pay taxes or file tax returns to the Armenian government.
By contrast, the United States imposes a citizenship‑based taxation system, meaning that US citizens are required to file US tax returns on their worldwide income irrespective of the country in which they reside, with strict enforcement and severe penalties for noncompliance. Other western countries have begun following suit in earnest with the introduction of similar but more covert forms of citizenship‑based taxation.
In light of the numerous benefits that Armenia has to offer, the country’s unique variety of reasonably‑priced and relatively hassle‑free paths to citizenship makes the acquisition of Armenian citizenship an extremely appealing prospect. For a western citizen, it is certainly among the most viable options available in the still‑fledgling market for second citizenships.
The Armenian Passport
Although the terms citizenship and passport are often used synonymously without complication, it is worth clarifying for the purpose of this article that a passport is the international travel document issued by a government to that country’s citizenry. Thus, a passport should be viewed as merely one of many perks of citizenship.
The excellent visa-free access to Eastern European and Asian countries afforded to Armenian citizens would make the Armenian passport a valuable complement to any western passport or western-centric passport repertoire. Unlike citizens of the United States, Canada, and most European countries, Armenian citizens do not require a visa to enter Russia, China, or Iran.
Hence, the addition of an Armenian passport would considerably improve a western citizen’s worldwide mobility in a way that could not be achieved by obtaining a quality second passport from another western country.
Diversification Trumps Quantity
The notion of a poorly diversified western‑centric passport repertoire is exemplified by the one held by Paul Whelan, a Michigan‑based corporate security director recently convicted of espionage in Russia. It was revealed following his arrest that Whelan holds the citizenship of four different countries – the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, and Ireland.
This is certainly an impressive collection of citizenships, however a major drawback is that they are all friendly English‑speaking countries within the same cultural and geopolitical sphere of influence. As a result, the citizens of these countries are subject to virtually the exact same travel restrictions and international visa requirements.
Irrespective of Whelan’s motivation for holding these four citizenships, the crux of the visa‑free travel argument is that the addition of an Armenian passport to a stand‑alone US passport would result in a far greater improvement in international mobility than would the addition of a combined UK‑Irish‑Canadian passport trio.
A newly acquired Armenian passport may not carry as much weight as a Maltese or Austrian passport with regard to showboating and one-upmanship, but it absolutely has the potential to outshine any top-tier western passport when it comes to improving the international mobility of holders of western passports.