Norair Melkom-Melkomian

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Excerpt from 11/1/2005 issue of AGBU Magazine article:
by Suren Musayelyan

No reason to stay abroad . . .

Norair Melkom-Melkomian never regrets his decision to move to Armenia and says his choice to live in Armenia was one that he was destined to make at some point.

The 54-year-old manager who was born in Tehran and lived most of his life in Iran came to live in Yerevan with his family in September 1991, the month when the country declared its independence.

“Armenia is where we belong. It is our environment. When a fish is taken out of its natural environment its natural desire is to return to water and so was ours,” says Melkomian.

Melkomian spent six years studying business management in the UK. It was there that he met his wife Nanik, 57. They married in 1979, the year of the Islamic Revolution in Iran. But against the odds the couple decided to return to Iran.

“It was relatively easier to preserve our national identity in Iran than in the UK,” says Melkomian.

The couple’s four daughters, now adults, were born in Iran.

Melkomian says his family fully supported his decision to repatriate although he had a good job as director of Iran’s largest household and industrial spring-producing plant

The businessman says that for more than a year he stayed without a proper job in Armenia, spending his life’s savings in the meanwhile. Then he was involved in transport and tourism business in Armenia until 2003 when he founded Elite Hygiene, now the only producer of feminine hygiene products in Armenia, where 23 people are employed.

“I had no expectations when I came here,” says Melkomian. “When Armenia gained independence, as an Armenian I no longer had the reason to stay abroad and that was my choice.”

Now Melkomian lives with his large family in a four-room apartment on Yerevan’s Amirian street. His daughters all graduated from higher institutes in Armenia, but one of them is now continuing her studies as a veterinarian in Manchester, UK.

“But all of us know that we are strongly connected to our homeland and will hand down this connection to our generations to come,” says Melkomian.

The successful businessman calls Armenia a safe place to live and sees a bright future for the country.

“What Armenians need most is the sense and appreciation of collective interest. We need to learn to sacrifice our personal interests in favor of collective ones,” says Melkomian when describing what he believes to be his negative impressions of the local ways of life.

But he adds: “Armenians have a fantastic aspiration towards learning.”

The businessman pins a lot of hopes on the state, which he distinguishes from any particular government and believes that even the worst state is better than no state at all. “I believe that the situation will get better. It is another matter that it could be improved faster if we managed to find the strength to grapple more effectively with social pessimism, government corruption, etc. innate in our society,” he says.

Now the Melkomians are looking into the future and see Armenia as part of the Western civilization.

“Still in ancient times Armenia was the upholder of Greek and Roman values and I see no alternative to European integration for Armenia,” Melkomian concludes.