Via Oneworld Multimedia Blog, a new report says that 29% of Armenia’s population is hungry.

The starving Armenians have not vanished, have they?

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Photo by Onnik Krikorian

I am reading a book by Christoph Stefes, an associate professor at my university, titled “UNDERSTANDING POST-SOVIET TRANSITIONS” (2006).

The book deals with corruption in Armenia and in Georgia. It tries to answer the question, why is that corruption in Armenia is restrained and limited as opposed to corruption in Georgia which is all over the country and is decentralized.

I have not finished the book yet, but, according to the meeting that I had with Christoph, he basically argues that Kocharyan limits corruption because Armenia’s resources are too scarce for balancing the power between Azerbaijan and Armenia. But the same logic does not explain why Georgia does not limit corruption since it also has territorial disputes and conflict with powerful Russia.

So what does corruption and poverty have to do with each other? According to conservative American perspective, poverty exists because corrupt governments do not adequately distribute the aid, whether through grants or loans, to the population; the officials still the money.

According to liberal theory, poverty exists because the same aid providers (US government, World Trade Organization, World Bank) put poor countries in situations that poverty cannot be abolished. They give loans to governments and require governments to buy their (usually genetically engineered) seeds with that same money. A pure business, that leaves poor people hungry, since they cannot afford buying food. That is why India, having millions of hungry people, imports crops for European cows (because poor Indians can’t afford buying crops).