Washington, DC – The House Appropriations Committee, yesterday, voted to maintain military assistance parity between Armenia and Azerbaijan, despite the Bush Administration’s request to break the parity agreement and provide 40% more in assistance to Azerbaijan, reported the Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA.)
The key foreign aid panel also approved its Foreign Operations Subcommittee’s decision last week to allocate $62 million in U.S. aid for Armenia and $5 million for Nagorno Karabagh for fiscal year (FY) 2007. The amount represents a $12 million increase over President Bush’s FY 2007 budget request, but is lower than last year’s appropriation of $75 million. The Subcommittee also rejected efforts by Azerbaijan’s lobbyists to weaken Section 907 restrictions on U.S. assistance to Azerbaijan, due to its ongoing blockades of Armenia and Nagorno Karabagh.
Overall, the Appropriations Committee approved $21.3 billion in foreign aid spending, an increase of $600 million over last year’s budget.
“We commend the members of the House Appropriations Committee and the Foreign Operations Subcommittee for contributing to the continued stability of the Caucasus by maintaining parity in military aid to Armenia and Azerbaijan and fighting back attempts to further weaken Section 907,” stated Aram Hamparian, Executive Director of the ANCA. “We also appreciate the efforts of our friends to increase Armenia’s assistance above the level proposed by the President and to provide $5 million in aid to Nagorno Karabagh. We look forward to action by the Senate – and later in conference committee – to bring assistance to Armenia to at least last year’s figure of $75 million,” added Hamparian.
Military assistance to Armenia and Azerbaijan will include $3.5million in foreign military finance (FMF) and $790,000 in International Military and Education Training (IMET). Economic assistance to Azerbaijan was set at $29 million, $1 million more than the Administration’s budget request.
“We want to express our appreciation to Congressman Joe Knollenberg for his advocacy within the Subcommittee, to thank Chairman Jim Kolbe and Ranking Member Nita Lowey for their leadership, and to share our gratitude for the support of John Sweeney, Steve Rothman, Mark Kirk, and Chaka Fattah., and our other friends on this vitally important panel,” said Aram Hamparian, Executive Director of the ANCA.
“Given the fact that relations between Armenia and Azerbaijan continue to be tenuous, it is imperative that the U.S. maintain a balanced approach,” noted Congressional Armenian Caucus co-Chair Frank Pallone (D-NJ), following Appropriations Committee passage of the measure. “Furthermore, I am pleased that the Committee called for a higher allocation to Armenia than that requested by the Administration, but like previous years we will work hard to secure more funding in conference.”
On March 16th of this year, Representative George Radanovich (R-CA)and Congressional Armenian Caucus Co-Chairman Frank Pallone (D-NJ)sent a letter to the leadership of the Foreign Operations Subcommittee, cosigned by 48 of their House colleagues, calling for an earmark of at least $75million for Armenia; maintaining equal levels of military aid for Armenia and Azerbaijan; an additional $5 million in direct aid to Nagorno Karabagh for FY 2007, and; keeping in place the Section 907restriction on aid to Azerbaijan.
The names of the fifty signatories are as follows: Tom Allen (D-ME), Robert Andrews (D-NJ), Xavier Becerra (D-CA), Howard Berman(D-CA), Michael Bilirakis (R-FL), Eric Cantor (R-VA), Lois Capps(D-CA), Dennis Cardoza (D-CA), John Conyers (D-MI), Jim Costa (D-CA), Joseph Crowley (D-NY), William Delahunt (D-MA), David Dreier(R-CA), Eliot Engel (D-NY), Mike Ferguson (R-NJ), Barney Frank (D-MA), Scott Garrett (R-NJ), Rush Holt (D-NJ), Michael Honda (D-CA),Dale Kildee (D-MI), James Langevin (D-RI), Sander Levin (D-MI),Frank LoBiondo (R-NJ), Stephen Lynch (D-MA), Carolyn Maloney (D-NY), Edward Markey (D-MA), Doris Matsui (D-CA), Thaddeus McCotter(R-MI), James McGovern (D-MA), John McHugh (R-NY), Michael McNulty(D-NY), Martin Meehan (D-MA), Grace Napolitano (D-CA), Frank Pallone (D-NJ), Donald Payne (D-NJ), Collin Peterson (D-MN), George Radanovich (R-CA), Bobby Rush (D-IL), H. James Saxton (R-NJ), Adam Schiff (D-CA), Joe Schwarz (R-MI), Christopher Shays (R-CT), Brad Sherman (D-CA), Rob Simmons (R-CT), Mark Souder (R-IN), Edolphus Towns (D-NY), Diane Watson (D-CA), Henry Waxman (D-CA), Anthony Weiner (D-NY) and Lynn Woolsey (D-CA).