23:12 24 November 2021
Post by: WBJ

Ambassadors’ Corner 7

Armenian Ambassador Samvel Mkrtchian about vegan food, migrants, and Christmas 2021

Ambassadors’ Corner 7

In Poland, the plant-based protein sources market increased by 28 percent in 2020, which is more than €130 million, according to a Polish business daily. Meanwhile, Warsaw has been named as the sixth most vegan-friendly city in the world by Happy Cow, the world’s largest guide to vegan and vegetarian-friendly businesses worldwide. How popular are vegan and vegetarian dishes in your country? How big are the vegan and vegetarian food markets in your country?

Samvel Mkrtchian: The uniqueness of Armenian cuisine is that we combine and balance non-vegetarian and vegetarian meals. Together with Armenian barbeque, very tasty vegetarian dishes are served in our cuisine. For example, Zhingyalov hats, a flatbread stuffed with seven types of green edible plants that grow in Armenian highlands. Aveluk soup is always a popular local choice throughout the year since the plant that grows in wild is dried and then cooked. Another popular dish is Pasus tolma — cabbage rolls stuffed with lentils and chickpeas. In fact, vegan and vegetarian food is incrementally gaining popularity, as are restaurants and eateries. Eat & Fit Healthy Food Café, Dr Veggie, Indian Mehak Restaurant & Bar are the places where vegan food is served in Yerevan. If you want to learn more about vegan and vegetarian food in Armenia, we recommend “The Vegan Armenian Kitchen Cookbook.”

An unprecedented number of migrants have moved to Poland in recent years. For the fourth year in a row, Poland has granted the most first residence permits to immigrants coming into the EU, the latest Eurostat data reveals. How popular (in numbers) is your country with migrants? Where are they primarily from?

Armenia isn’t popular with migrants. The biggest influx took place 3-4 years ago when around 20,000 Armenians moved from Syria. According to UNHCR, there were 17,977 registered refugees and 147 asylum seekers. People come to Armenia for different purposes — reunification of families, education, work, business activity. In 2021, temporary residence permits were granted to 3,626 people from India, Russia, Iran, Ukraine, Lebanon, Georgia and Iraq. Last year after the 44-day Nagorno-Karabakh war, several towns and villages were taken under Azeri control. Twenty thousand Armenians became homeless and moved to Armenia. Currently, our government is trying to accommodate their needs through various social programs.

Christmas 2020 was the first Christmas to get through the Covid-19 restrictions. In your country, how are Christmas 2021 celebrations going to be different than those of last year’s? Are there any limits on indoor gatherings or travel (domestic/foreign)?

Armenia suffered a lot from the restrictions to bring the Covid-19 pandemic under control. As the situation gradually improved and the lockdown was lifted, the tourism industry started to recover from a near-total standstill. We have witnessed a significant increase in visitors and a rebounding of the service sector. Nowadays, if someone wants to travel to Armenia, a negative PCR test result valid for 72 hours or a certificate of vaccination is sufficient. On October 28, the EU and Armenia agreed to mutually recognize each other’s vaccination certificates. The factor of unpredictability is increasing again. By Christmas, all public events may be closed for those who won’t have negative PCR test results or are not vaccinated. Hopefully, the restrictive measures will stop there and we will be able to celebrate the New Year and Christmas as before Covid.

samvel mkrtchian

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