US CONGRESS ASSENTS $41 MILLION FOR ARMENIA, $8 MILLION FOR NKR
10.12.2009 11:12 GMT+04:00
/PanARMENIAN.Net/ The U.S. House and Senate Wednesday agreed upon a
far-reaching Fiscal Year 2010 (FY10) spending measure that includes a
$41 million economic aid package for Armenia, $8 million for "programs
and activities" in Nagorno Karabakh, and parity in Foreign Military
Financing for Armenia and Azerbaijan, reported the Armenian National
Committee of America (ANCA).
These figures were determined by a conference committee, comprised
of House and Senate appropriators tasked with reconciling the two
versions of the FY10 foreign aid bill.
The House measure, overseen by the State-Foreign Operations
Subcommittee Chair Nita Lowey, included a $48 million allocation for
Armenia, $10 for Nagorno Karabakh, and across-the-board parity in
military aid to Armenia and Azerbaijan.
The Senate version, presided over by the State- Foreign Operations
Subcommittee Chair Patrick Leahy, set aside just $30 million for
Armenia, the figure proposed in President Obama’s budget, and did not
include any figures for either aid to Nagorno Karabakh or military
aid to Yerevan and Baku.
The President’s low aid request for Armenia – which represented a
dramatic 39% cut from the previous year, stood in stark contrast to
his campaign pledge to maintain aid levels and to foster the growth
and development of Armenia. Congress also rolled back President Obama’s
request to reverse the long-established policy of maintaining military
parity between Armenia and Azerbaijan in terms of Foreign Military
Financing. No figures were included in the Conference Report regarding
International Military Education and Training.
"We want to thank all our friends, among them Chairwoman Lowey, Adam
Schiff, Mark Kirk, Steve Rothman, Jesse Jackson, Steve Israel, and
Frank Lobiondo, for restoring $11 million of the $18 million reduction
in aid to Armenia proposed by the Obama-Biden Administration, and also
for setting, for the first time, unrestricted aid to Nagorno Karabakh
at $8 million," said Aram Hamparian, Executive Director of the ANCA.
"While we remain troubled by the overall decrease in support for
Armenia, which is now down to nearly half of what was appropriated
just three years ago, we are pleased that military parity in Foreign
Military Financing to Armenia and Azerbaijan has been maintained,
and that the Committee’s traditional description of aid to Nagorno
Karabakh as ‘humanitarian’ has been removed, reflecting a growing
appreciation among legislators of the need to implement development
programs with these funds."
The Conference Report includes language, added, by all accounts,
at the urging of legislators concerned about Azerbaijan’s escalating
war rhetoric, calling upon "all parties to the conflict to refrain
from threats of violence and the use of inflammatory rhetoric."
The report also notes the expectation of Congressional appropriators
that the Administration must continue to certify that aid to Azerbaijan
will not undermine a peaceful settlement to the Karabakh conflict nor
be used for offensive purposes against Armenia before it can waive
Section 907 of the Freedom Support Act.
In the months leading up to Wednesday’s decision, the Armenian
Caucus, in a series of letters and meetings, called for Senate and
House Appropriation Committee leaders to maintain $48 million in
U.S. assistance to Armenia, to increase aid to Nagorno Karabakh,
and to continue military assistance parity to Armenia and Azerbaijan.
In an October 26th letter to the Chairs and Ranking Republicans
of the Senate and House foreign aid subcommittees, several dozen
Caucus members reinforced these points, stressing that, "Armenia’s
cooperation in anti-terrorism efforts and its deployment of forces
to both Iraq and Kosovo are pivotal to U.S. interests. Armenia has
entered into a NATO Individual Partnership Action Plan (IPAP) and has
worked closely with both NATO and the Defense Department on a range
of bilateral and multilateral agreements, joint training programs,
and military exercises."