Reps. Pallone and Radanovich Lead Bipartisan Effort

April 18, 2005

ASHINGTON, DC – Congressmen Frank Pallone (D-NJ) and George Radanovich (R-CA) were joined today by forty-three of their U.S. House colleagues in formally calling on the leadership of the House Foreign Operations Subcommittee to support pro-Armenian provisions in the fiscal year 2006 foreign aid bill, reported the Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA).

This bipartisan expression of support, addressed to the panel’s Chairman Jim Kolbe (R-AZ) and Ranking Member Nita Lowey (D-NY), strengthens the hand of pro-Armenian members of the Subcommittee, most notably Armenian Caucus Co-Chairman Joe Knollenberg, Steve Rothman (D-NJ), Mark Kirk (R-IL), and John Sweeney (R-NY). Rep. Sweeney, who is a new addition to the panel this year, is one of only two Members of Congress of Armenian heritage.

The letter specifically calls for setting an earmark of at least $75 million for Armenia; maintaining the President’s request for equal levels of Foreign Military Financing for Armenia and Azerbaijan at $5 million each; an additional $5 million in direct aid to Nagorno Karabagh for fiscal year 2006, and; keeping in place the Section 907 restriction on aid to Azerbaijan. The full text of the letter is provided below.

“We very much appreciate the leadership of Congressmen Radanovich and Pallone in urging the Foreign Operations Subcommittee to support provisions in the foreign aid bill of special importance to Armenian Americans,” said ANCA Executive Director Aram Hamparian. “We also value the advocacy for pro-Armenian issues from within this panel by Armenian Caucus Co-Chairman Joe Knollenberg, the leadership of Chairman Jim Kolbe and Ranking Democrat Nita Lowey, and the support of Steve Rothman, John Sweeney, Mark Kirk, Jesse Jackson, Jr., Carolyn Kilpatrick, Chaka Fattah, and our other friends.”

The names of the forty-five signatories are as follows: Gary L. Ackerman (D-NY), Thomas H. Allen (D-ME), Robert E. Andrews (D-NJ), Xavier Beccerra (D-CA), Howard L. Berman (D-CA), Michael Bilirakis (R-FL), Eric Cantor (R-VA), Michael E. Capuano (D-CA), Dennis A. Cardoza (D-CA), John Conyers Jr. (D-MI), Jim Costa (D-CA), Jerry F. Costello (D-IL), Joseph Crowley (D-NY), David Dreier (R-CA), Anna G. Eshoo (D-CA), Barney Frank (D-MA), Scott Garrett (R-NJ), Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC), Rush D. Holt (D-NJ), Michael M. Honda (D-CA), Steve Israel (D-NY), Darrell E. Issa (R-CA), James R. Langevin (D-RI), Stephen F. Lynch (D-MA), Carolyn B. Maloney (D-NY), Carolyn McCarthy (D-NY), James P. McGovern (D-MA), Michael R. McNulty (D-NY), Martin Meehan (D-MA), Robert Menendez (D-NJ), Grace F. Napolitano (D-CA), Devin Nunes (R-CA), Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ), Collin C. Peterson (D-MN), Linda T. Sanchez (D-CA), Adam B. Schiff (D-CA), Joe Schwarz (R-MI), Clay E. Shaw, Jr. (R-FL), John Shimkus (R-IL), Mark E. Souder (R-IN), George Radanovich (R-CA), Stephanie Tubbs Jones (D-OH), Diane E. Watson (D-CA), Henry Waxman (D-CA), and Jerry Weller (R-IL).


Text of Congressional letter on the FY06 Foreign Aid Bill:

April 8, 2005

The Honorable Jim Kolbe
Subcommittee on Foreign Operations Appropriations
H-150, The Capitol
Washington, D.C. 20515

The Honorable Nita Lowey
Ranking Member
Subcommittee on Foreign Operations Appropriations
1016 Longworth
Washington, D.C. 20515

Dear Chairman Kolbe and Ranking Member Lowey:

Thank you for your leadership on the Appropriations Subcommittee on Foreign Operations. As you prepare the FY2006 Foreign Operations Appropriations bill, we write in support of Armenia and US-Armenia relations. We request that you include the following items in the FY2006 bill.

Economic Assistance to Armenia:

The dual blockades of Armenia by Azerbaijan and Turkey continue to impede Armenia’s economic well-being. Despite the dual blockades by Azerbaijan and Turkey, Armenia continues to implement economic and democratic reforms, which have met success. While Armenia continues to make important reforms, as long as Armenia suffers from blockades on its east and west borders, continued and robust U.S. assistance to Armenia is necessary to help minimize their impact. Our assistance has provided an important positive effect and will continue to do so when provided at appropriate levels. For fiscal year 2005, $75 million was provided for Armenia. Maintaining this level of support is critical. Therefore, we request you include language ensuring that not less than $75million in Economic Support Funds is appropriated for Armenia in fiscal year 2006.

Maintain Parity in Foreign Military Financing (FMF):

The President is to be commended for maintaining U.S. policy of military aid parity between Armenia and Azerbaijan by requesting $5 million in FMF for both countries in his FY 2006 budget request. By allocating equal levels of military and security assistance to both nations, the U.S. government will preserve its credibility as an impartial and leading mediator in the continuing sensitive peace negotiations for the Nagorno Karabakh conflict. Given the
ongoing Azerbaijani blockades and threats to renew military aggression against Armenia and Karabakh, it is critically important that the Administration continues to promote balanced short- and long-term policies that elevate regional cooperation and reduce the risk of conflict in the South Caucases region. Therefore, we support the President’s symmetrical FMF request of $5 million for Armenia and Azerbaijan, and request that you include the same allocation in the FY 2006 bill.

Assistance to Nagorno-Karabakh:

We thank you for your continued support for assistance to Nagorno-Karabakh. This support is in our country’s interests and helps alleviate the conditions of the Nagorno-Karabakh people. We agree with the USAID Administrator who has testified before Congress about the importance of continuing the work of the agency in Nagorno-Karabakh. It is important for Congress to maintain a strong position on this funding to ensure that these programs continue. Therefore, we request you include language directing USAID to spend $5 million in fiscal year 2006 for programs in Nagorno-Karabakh.

Section 907:

Section 907 of the FREEDOM Support Act remains a fundamental element of U.S. policy toward the South Caucases. Because Azerbaijan continues its blockade of Armenia, Section 907 is necessary. As you know, the FY 2002 Foreign Operations Appropriations Act provided a limited and conditional waiver to Section 907 of the FREEDOM Support Act in order for the U.S. to effectively combat terrorism. Specifically, Secretary of State Colin Powell asked for flexibility to counter terrorist elements and organizations operating within Azerbaijan. We strongly support Section 907 and will oppose any further changes to this law. We request that you join us in opposing any changes to Section 907 in the fiscal year 2006 bill.

We appreciate your consideration of these requests.


For Immediate Release
Media Contact: Elizabeth S. Chouldjian
Email / Tel: (202) 775-1918
Armenian National Committee of America
888 17th Street, NW, Suite 904, Washington, DC 20006
Tel. (202) 775-1918 * Fax. (202) 775-5648 *
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