Congressional foreign aid panel proposes $45 million to Armenia and Karabakh
Published: Thursday May 31, 2012
Washington - On May 20, the U.S. House panel responsible for foreign aid this week adopted a number of provisions promoting U.S. interests and American values in the Caucasus, proposing sharply increasing aid to Nagorno Karabakh from $2 to $5 million and rejecting the Obama Administration's proposed $7.2 million cut in aid to Armenia, reported the Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA).
The House Appropriations Subcommittee on State-Foreign Operations, led by Chairwoman Kay Granger (R-TX) and Ranking Democrat Nita Lowey (D-NY), also maintained military aid parity between Armenia and Azerbaijan, and called upon the Administration to formulate a strategy for targeted aid to the Armenian-populated Javakhk region of Georgia. In addition, the panel called on the Secretary of State to continue support for Armenians and other Christian populations at risk due to recent unrest in the Middle East. These provisions were included in the Committee's Fiscal Year 2013 version of the foreign aid bill, which is set to be voted on tomorrow by the full House Appropriations Committee.
"Armenian Americans from California and across America thank Congressman Adam Schiff - who aggressively spearheaded the adoption of these vital foreign aid priorities - for his principled, pro-active, and persistent leadership," said Aram Hamparian, Executive Director of the ANCA. "We would also like to express our warm appreciation to our great friend and champion Congressman Steve Rothman, as well as to Ranking Member Nita Lowey, Congressmen Frank Wolf and Jesse Jackson, and, of course, to the leader of the Subcommittee, Chairwoman Kay Granger. The aid levels proposed for both Armenia and Nagorno Karabakh are particularly meaningful in the context of overall reductions in foreign aid spending," said Aram Hamparian, Executive Director of the ANCA. The key provisions of concern to Armenian Americans in this measure include:
-- Nagorno Karabakh: Against the backdrop of multi-billion dollar cuts to overall foreign aid spending, the panel proposed more than doubling aid to Nagorno Karabakh, from the traditional expenditure level over the past several years of $2 million to an FY13 level of $5 million, expliciting expanding the mandate of this assistance program to include both humanitarian and development assistance.
-- Armenia: The Subcommittee also set aid to Armenia at no less than $40 million, rejecting the Obama Administration's proposal to reduce FY13 economic aid to Armenia to $32.5 million, roughly $7.5 million less than the $40 million appropriated by Congress for FY12.
-- Javakhk: In a move that underscored the panel's interest in the welfare of the Armenian-populated Javakhk region of Georgia, they directed "the Coordinator of United States Assistance to Europe and Eurasia at the Department of State, in consultation with the Chief Executive Officer of the Millennium Challenge Corporation, to report to the Committees on Appropriations describing the effects of United States assistance from fiscal years 2005-2012 of programs conducted in Samstskhe-Javakheti and a strategy for future development of this region."
-- Military Aid Parity: The Subcommittee maintained parity in Foreign Military Financing ($2.7 million) and International Military Education and Training ($600,000) between Armenia and Azerbaijan.
-- Minority communities in the Middle East: The panel, in response to calls from Members of Congress as well as the ANCA and other ethnic and faith communities across America, noted that recent events have "have intensified the challenges facing minority communities, including Armenian and other Christian populations," and called upon the Secretary of State to continue support of humanitarian and resettlement assistance for members of these vulnerable communities."
Earlier this year, in an intiative supported by the ANCA, a bipartisan group of legislators, led by Armenian Caucus Co-Chairman Frank Pallone (D-NJ), sent a letter to Reps. Granger and Lowey making the case for supporting "the U.S.-Armenia strategic relationship through economic development and security assistance." The letter called for at least $5 million in U.S. aid to Nagorno Karabakh, increased aid to Armenia, targeted assistance to Javakhk, military aid parity, and support for Armenian and other Christian communities in the Middle East, among other priorities. For a copy of the letter, visit: http://www.anca.org/assets/pdf/misc/FY13_appropriations_priorities.pdf
The Senate Appropriations Committee is expected to consider the foreign aid bill before the end of May.