AAA: House Foreign Aid Panel Reinstates US Policy on Security Parity

Armenian Assembly of America
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PRESS RELEASE
May 22, 2006
CONTACT: Christine Kojoian
E-mail: [email protected]

HOUSE FOREIGN AID PANEL REINSTATES US POLICY ON SECURITY PARITY

Approves $62 million for Armenia in FY 07 Foreign Aid Bill

Washington, DC – The Armenian Assembly praised members of a key
foreign aid subcommittee today for reinstating U.S. policy to maintain
military aid parity between Armenia and Azerbaijan in the Fiscal Year
(FY) 2007 Foreign Operations bill. Earlier this year, the
Administration submitted a request for Azerbaijan that exceeded
security assistance to Armenia by $1.095 million.

Lawmakers approved a symmetrical appropriation that amounts to $3.5
million in Foreign Military Financing (FMF) and an additional $790,000
in International Military Education and Training (IMET) assistance to
both Armenia and Azerbaijan.

“We appreciate the efforts of the House Appropriations Committee and
credit its Foreign Operations Subcommittee Chairman Rep. Jim Kolbe
(R-AZ) and Ranking Member Rep. Nita M. Lowey (D-NY) for maintaining
equal security assistance between Armenia and Azerbaijan,” said
Assembly Executive Director Bryan Ardouny. “We especially appreciate
the outstanding leadership of Armenian Caucus Co-Chair and Committee
Member, Rep. Joe Knollenberg (R-MI), for his efforts in restoring
parity and protecting the fragile cease-fire at a time when Azerbaijan
continues to threaten a resumption of war against Nagorno Karabakh.”

Following the vote, Knollenberg told the Assembly that “It is vitally
important that Congress maintain military assistance parity between
Armenia and Azerbaijan. We do not want to unintentionally disturb the
delicate balance of power that exists in the South Caucasus nor weaken
our credibility as an impartial and leading mediator in the Nagorno
Karabakh peace process.”

“Given the fact that relations between Armenia and Azerbaijan continue
to be tenuous, it is imperative that the U.S. maintain a balanced
approach,” said Armenian Caucus Co-Chair Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ).
“Furthermore, I am pleased that the Committee called for a higher
allocation to Armenia than that requested by the Administration.”

The FY 2007 foreign aid bill also includes $62 million in economic aid
to Armenia and up to $5 million in humanitarian assistance to Nagorno
Karabakh. The level of funding for Armenia, although less than the
amount Congress appropriated in FY 2006, is $12 million more than that
requested by the Administration in February. In that request, the
Administration also called for an additional $1 million in FMF to
Azerbaijan over Armenia and suggested $885,000 for Azerbaijan versus
$790,000 for Armenia in IMET assistance.

The overall request level reflects a $41 million drop in assistance
for the Independent States of the Former Soviet Union, from $482
million in 2006 to $441 million in 2007.

During the House Foreign Operations Appropriations Subcommittee
hearing in April, the Assembly submitted testimony for the hearing
record, outlining the need for Congress to continue funding to Armenia
and Nagorno Karabakh. Additionally, the Assembly supported a letter
initiated by Pallone and Armenian Caucus Member Rep. George Radanovich
(R-CA) and co-signed by 48 additional Members of Congress,
highlighting important priorities for Armenia and Karabakh.

The bill will be considered by the full House Appropriations Committee
this week. Once the House of Representatives and Senate complete
action on their versions of the bill, a joint House-Senate Conference
Committee will reconcile the differences.

The Armenian Assembly of America is the largest Washington-based
nationwide organization promoting public understanding and awareness
of Armenian issues. It is a 501 (c) (3) tax-exempt membership
organization.

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NR#2006-051

www.armenianassembly.org

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