December 18, 2018
For Immediate Release
Contact: Elizabeth S. Chouldjian
tel. (202) 775-1918

ANCA Welcomes Congressional Call for Upgrade in U.S.-Armenia Strategic Partnership

Congressional Armenian Caucus Letter to Secretary Pompeo Sets Forth Clear, Comprehensive Vision for Post-Revolution Growth of Bilateral Relations

WASHINGTON, DC – In the wake of the Armenian people’s unprecedented peaceful political transition – during which Armenia emerged as an international model of democratic development – Congressional Armenian Caucus leadership have urged the U.S. State Department to elevate the U.S.-Armenia strategic dialogue, through the U.S.-Armenia Task Force and an increased focus on short and mid-term economic deliverables, reported the Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA).

“We join today with the Congressional Armenian Caucus in calling for a strategic upgrade of U.S.-Armenia relations – based on our shared interests, common values, and enduring friendship between our two nations,” said Aram Hamparian, Executive Director of the ANCA. “As the bipartisan leadership of the Caucus affirmed so powerfully, with Armenia having emerged as a model of democratic development, it’s time to take our bilateral relations to the next level – in the political, economic, military and cultural arenas. We echo, in particular, their call for a sharp focus on concrete bilateral initiatives that will drive short and mid-term progress on key economic deliverables.”

In a December 18th letter to Secretary of State Pompeo, Congressional Armenian Caucus Co-Chairs Frank Pallone (D-NJ), Jackie Speier (D-CA), Dave Trott (R-MI) and David Valadao (R-CA) and Vice-Chairs Gus Bilirakis (R-FL) and Adam Schiff (D-CA) noted that “now is the time to build off Armenia’s democratic progress, taking our bilateral relations to the next level – in the political, economic, military, and cultural arenas. As a complement to the Trade and Investment Framework Agreement Council administered by the U.S. Trade Representative, the Task Force managed by our Department of State provides the perfect platform for setting the broad aims and policy objectives for our renewed and re-energized partnership – with a sharp focus on concrete bilateral initiatives that will drive short and mid­term progress on key deliverables and shared goals.”

The letter goes on to note that “support for a comprehensive democratic transition will secure needed progress in the economic realm, where we encourage you to prioritize a long overdue Tax Treaty, Social Security Agreement, expanding duty-free products, Debt-for-Forestation swaps, non-stop LAX to EVN flights, trade missions, and other related initiatives.”

The ANCA has been working with Congressional leaders to advance a number of these concrete economic priorities through legislation and expanded dialogue with the Administration. For an overview of these issues, visit http://anca.org/anca360pdf

The U.S.-Armenia Joint Economic Task Force is next scheduled to meet in the first quarter of 2019.

The Congressional letter comes on the heels of “The Economist” naming Armenia its country of the year, noting that the Armenia has a “chance of democracy and renewal,” following its peaceful transition of power earlier this year.

The full text of the Armenian Caucus letter to Secretary Pompeo is provided below.

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December 18, 2018

Michael R. Pompeo
Secretary of State
U.S. Department of State
2201 C Street, NW
Washington, D.C. 20520

Dear Secretary Pompeo:

We write to express our interest in transforming the United States-Armenia Joint Economic Task Force (USATF) into a platform for sustained strategic dialogue on the direction of our nation’s increasingly impactful bilateral partnership with Armenia, based upon our shared interests, common values, and the enduring friendship between the American and Armenian peoples.

In the wake of Armenia’s recent political transition, capped by this past week’s free and fair Parliamentary elections, Armenia has emerged as a model of democratic development, far outperforming many other states in the post-Soviet space and setting an international standard for the peaceful, civil society-driven, constitutional transfer of power. We were, of course, encouraged by the welcome of these remarkable developments by the White House and Department of State. While the credit for this progress belongs to the Armenian people, we can be proud of our role as Americans, over the past two decades, in appropriating and administering aid to help provide the tools and create the conditions for engaged citizens to take ownership of their future.

Now is the time to build off Armenia’s democratic progress, taking our bilateral relations to the next level – in the political, economic, military, and cultural arenas. As a complement to the Trade and Investment Framework Agreement Council administered by the U.S. Trade Representative, the Task Force managed by our Department of State provides the perfect platform for setting the broad aims and policy objectives for our renewed and re-energized partnership – with a sharp focus on concrete bilateral initiatives that will drive short and mid­term progress on key deliverables and shared goals.

We respectfully encourage you to upgrade the next Task Force meeting to a strategic dialogue that supports the sustained escalation and regularization of high-level bilateral exchanges. In terms of democracy, we invite you to continue to expand U.S. support for anti-corruption, a strong civil society, and the independence of the media by creating working groups or mechanisms to advance reforms. This will leverage Armenia’s real progress in these areas and the commitment made by the Administration to two years of additional democracy funding. Support for a comprehensive democratic transition will secure needed progress in the economic realm, where we encourage you to prioritize a long overdue Tax Treaty, Social Security Agreement, expanding duty-free products, Debt-for-Forestation swaps, non-stop LAX to EVN flights, trade missions, and other related initiatives. We also hope you will take into account that Armenia suffers from a double blockade that deeply affects its economy. On the humanitarian front, we ask you to empower Armenia to continue serving as a safe haven for regional refugees, particularly at-risk ethnic and religious minorities. Finally, building upon Armenia’s participation in NATO’s Partnership for Peace and U.S.-lead global peacekeeping operations, we ask that you put in place policies and programs to broaden and deepen U.S.­Armenia military cooperation.

As you prepare for the next annual convening of the USATF in Washington, we request details on your priorities for engagement and your thoughts on exploring the expansion of existing bilateral cooperation frameworks with Armenia. We appreciate your attention to our recommendations detailed here, look forward to your response, and stand ready to help further the growth of the U.S.-Armenia relationship.

Sincerely,

Jackie Speier (D-CA)
Dave Trott (R-MI)
Frank Pallone (D-NJ)
David Valadao (R-CA)
Adam Schiff (D-CA)
Gus Bilirakis (R-FL)

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