Syrian-Armenian repatriate: “My children found their luck in Armenia”

Hayern Aysor presents the interview with Syrian-Armenian repatriate Georgette Ohanian. The interview is part of the #AdvicefromaSyrian-Armenian program.

Hayern Aysor: Mrs. Ohanian, when did you move to Armenia?

Georgette Ohanian: In 2002, my husband and I decided that we had to move to Armenia, that is, my homeland. We wanted our children to grow up here and have our family live here, not abroad. This was long before the war, and people would ask us why we wanted to move to Armenia. Now we are very content and happy that we made that decision. If every Armenian asks why he should move to Armenia, we Armenians won’t have a homeland.

Hayern Aysor: Did you make the decision to open a restaurant immediately after settling in Armenia?

Georgette Ohanian: When we had just moved, I felt that I had a lot of free time on my hands. Before we settled here, my husband had a job in Aleppo and would often travel to Aleppo. It was then that I realized that I could spend my free time making dishes. I started making falafels and sandwiches and sold them at shops. I opened a couple of shops. My business grew step-by-step, and I added a variety of dishes and saw more and more customers coming to my shop. This restaurant has been around for the past two years.

Hayern Aysor: The restaurant is called “Arax”. I think you named it after the Armenian river.

Georgette Ohanian: No, we wanted the restaurant to sound Armenian to everyone’s ears.

Hayern Aysor: What dishes do you serve at the restaurant?

Georgette Ohanian: We serve Syrian and Armenian dishes.

Hayern Aysor: Which is the special dish that you recommend to your customers?

Georgette Ohanian: I recommend the falafel, which is the first dish that we started serving at our restaurant. To this day, it is the tastiest dish of our restaurant. This might sound immodest, but the taste of our falafel is unique. No other restaurant serves falafel like we do.

Hayern Aysor: Mrs. Ohanian, there are people who say the taxation sector is not good for starting a business in Armenia. Based on your experience, what would you say?

Georgette Ohanian: I have started a business from scratch three times. I have paid all my taxes. The only problem is that the laws change frequently, and this causes certain complications. There have been certain hardships over the past years, but thank God, all the problems have been solved. One needs time to achieve success in any sector.

Hayern Aysor: Have you faced any other hardships in Armenia?

Georgette Ohanian: No, we are happy to be living in Armenia. We feel at home here. Nobody bothers us. On the contrary, they try to do their best to help us, if necessary.

I have three children. One of them is an opera singer. He graduated from Yerevan Komitas State Conservatory and is currently based in Geneva. My daughter and my other son live in Armenia. Thank God, my children found their luck in Armenia.

Hayern Aysor: What did you love the most about Armenia?

Georgette Ohanian: Of course, the nature is great, but I loved the people the most. Everyone here is like us. You can’t interact with people as freely abroad as you can here. We are all like one family.

Hayern Aysor: Mrs. Ohanian, I have one last question that is part of the #3AdvicefromaSyrian-Armenian program. What advice would you give to other Syrian-Armenians wishing to start a business in Armenia?

Georgette Ohanian: I think there are three most important features for any businessmen-patience, diligence and devotion.

Interview by Laura Samvelyan

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