House members outline Armenian Caucus priorities

Aid proposals unchanged from 2009-10

by Emil Sanamyan

Published: Thursday April 08, 2010

Rep. Nita Lowey.  . AP

Washington - In the interest of regional peace the United States Congress should expand assistance to Armenia and promote U.S. engagement with authorities of the Nagorno Karabakh Republic, twenty-eight members of Congress argued in a letter dated March 22.

The letter initiated and made public by the co-chair of the Armenian caucus Rep. Frank Pallone (D-N.J.) was addressed to the House Foreign Operations Subcommittee Chair Nita Lowey (D-N.Y.) and Ranking Member Kay Granger (R-Tex.).

Foreign operations subcommittee plays a key role in setting foreign aid levels early in appropriations process that are then normally endorsed by the House of Representatives.

The Caucus recommendations for Fiscal Year 2011 include $70 million in aid to Armenia and $10 million in aid to Nagorno Karabakh; maintenance of parity in U.S. military aid to Armenia and Azerbaijan, with $5 million in military aid to Armenia recommended; enhancement of restrictions on U.S. aid to Azerbaijan; end to restrictions on U.S. engagement with NKR; and a renewed offer to promote confidence building measures between Armenia and Azerbaijan.

In statements issued on March 25, Armenian American organizations welcomed the proposed measures which are identical to the Caucus recommendations made in 2009-10 (see table below).

 

FY2010

FY2009

 

Obama requested

Caucus requested

Congress appropriated

Bush requested

Caucus requested

Congress appropriated

Armenia

30.0

70

41.0

24.0

70

48.0

Karabakh

N/A

10

8.0

N/A

10

8.0

Armenia military

3.5

5

3.0

3.3

5

3.5

Azerbaijan military

4.9

0

3.0

3.9

0

3.5


The full text of the congressional letter follows:

March 22, 2010 

The Honorable Nita Lowey                                          The Honorable Kay Granger

Chairwoman                                                                 Ranking Member

Appropriations Subcommittee on                                  Appropriations Subcommittee on

State-Foreign Operations                                              State-Foreign Operations

Room HB-26, The Capitol Building                              1016 Longworth House Office

Washington, DC 20515                                                Washington, DC 20515

Dear Chairwoman Lowey and Ranking Member Granger:

As you prepare the Fiscal Year 2011 State-Foreign Operations and Related Programs Appropriations bill, we write in strong support of U.S. assistance to Armenia and other aid related provisions that contribute to peace and stability in the Caucasus region. We respectfully request that you consider the following requests listed in priority order:

Economic Assistance to Armenia

The people of Armenia continue to face the devastating impact of Turkey and Azerbaijan's dual blockades, illegal actions that according to World Bank estimates from several years ago cost Armenia roughly $720 million annually.  As Armenia continues to display commitment to ending the blockade and Turkey continues to include preconditions that threaten the integrity of current negotiations, the U.S. should continue its important support of Armenia.

Until the recent world economic crisis, Armenia regularly registered double-digit growth and has been consistently cited as among the most free economies in the region by the Wall Street Journal and the Heritage Foundation's Index of Economic Freedom.  Our assistance programs have played a vital role in promoting this progress, as well as in the development of Armenia's democratic institutions, an effort that has seen substantial advancement.

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