Pallone and Radanovich seek congressional support for post-conflict aid
to Javakhk and Armenia
In a bipartisan appeal, Representatives Frank Pallone (D-NJ) and George
Radanovich (R-CA) reached out to their Congressional colleagues to
support targeting portions of the proposed $1 billion post
Georgia-Russia conflict aid package for the Samtskhe-Javakheti region
of Georgia and to help offset the economic impact of the recent crisis
on Armenia, reported the Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA).
In a September 12th Dear Colleague letter, the two legislators
explained to their fellow Representatives that Armenia, which continues
to be materially harmed by the fighting to its north, has remained "a
constructive partner to Georgia through ensuring safe transit for
humanitarian needs, reconstruction assistance, and diplomatic
measures." They also stressed the urgency of providing funds
pecifically for Samtskhe-Javakheti, a chronically underdeveloped region
in Georgia, heavily populated by Armenians.
"We thank Representatives Pallone and Radanovich for their vision
and compassion in addressing the pressing humanitarian and
developmental needs, both in Georgia and in Armenia, created by the
recent fighting," said ANCA Executive Director Aram Hamparian. "We
are hopeful that their colleagues will join with them in ensuring
that the United States lends a helping hand to the people of
Samtskhe-Javakheti and Armenia during this difficult time."
Representatives Pallone and Radanovich are currently urging their
colleagues to co-sign a Congressional letter to President Bush
suggesting that the Administration implement two specific policy
1) Ensuring that a meaningful level of the new Georgia aid program
is specifically targeted to the vital Samtskhe-Javakheti region.
This largely Armenian-inhabited area, home to roughly five percent
of Georgia’s overall population, remains, in great measure,
economically undeveloped. Of the $1 billion being proposed for
Georgia, a proportional share on a per capita basis, should be
officially dedicated to developmental programs in Samtskhe-
Javakheti, with a special focus on alleviating poverty, developing
transportation and communication links, promoting international
trade and investment, and supporting sustainable economic growth.
2) In light of Yerevan’s extensive assistance during this crisis
and also the large-scale harm it has endured as a result of the
fighting in the region, portions of the new Georgia assistance
package should be used to help offset the damage to Armenia’s
economy. This damage, estimated at between $680 and $1 billion,
has largely been the result of higher transportation costs,
increased prices for basic commodities such as food and fuel, and a
slow down in international investments.