Knollenberg Seeks to Cut all Military Aid to Azerbaijan in response to Aliev’s threats of Renewed Aggression

March 12, 2008

WASHINGTON, DC – Congressional Armenian Caucus Co-Chairman Joe Knollenberg (R-MI) and Representative Adam Schiff (D-CA) pressed Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice today on the Administration’s proposal to break an agreement to maintain military aid parity between Armenia and Azerbaijan, citing Baku’s threats of renewed aggression and its recent cross-border attacks against Nagorno Karabagh, reported the Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA).

Calling the recent Azerbaijani attacks against Nagorno Karabagh’s Mardakert region as the “the worst breach [of the cease fire] in over 10 years”, Rep. Knollenberg asked Secretary Rice how the Administration intends to respond to Azerbaijan’s aggression and war rhetoric. She replied that, “we are very concerned about the heating up rhetoric but I think the way to deal with this is to open channels to both sides and to try to bring them to a solution.”

Rep. Knollenberg followed up noting that, “I wasn’t the least bit kidding about removing their military funding because if Azerbaijan is building up to a point, that they have also said that they would move into Armenia and challenge them whenever they want to because they have an economic situation that is far stronger than Armenia, and in time they probably could put together a military organization that would march in and take over. Now that’s not the outcome any of us want, but I am really concerned about that. That is why I am suggesting that we take away their military funding or at least threaten it – because they are threatening Armenia.”

In response to Rep. Schiff’s concerns that the President’s budget called for a break in military aid parity to Armenia and Azerbaijan, Secretary Rice cited concerns about the current state of emergency in Armenia. Rep. Schiff interjected that no state of emergency existed when the President’s budget was announced in early February, prompting Secretary Rice to state that Armenia received Millennium Challenge Account funding and is the highest recipient of per capita aid in the Caucasus.

Noting Armenia’s recent domestic turmoil surrounding the Armenian elections, and specifically the state of emergency declared by the government, Sec. Rice twice referenced the suspension of implementation of some U.S. assistance programs to Armenia and stated that they continue to work with the authorities to bring stability to the region.

The budget proposed by the White House last month sought to dramatically slash aid to Armenia by 59%, and, once again, proposed tipping the military aid balance in favor of Azerbaijan, despite Baku’s threats to use it growing military arsenal to restart its war against Armenia and Nagorno Karabagh.

Congressman Knollenberg and his Congressional Armenian Caucus Co-Chairman Frank Pallone (D-NJ) are currently collecting signatures from their House colleagues on a letter urging the leaders of the U.S. State-Foreign Operations Appropriations Subcommittee to support provisions in the FY09 foreign aid bill that advance U.S. interests and American values in Armenia and the surrounding region. Citizens seeking to reverse the President’s proposed cut in aid to Armenia and to support the other aid priorities in the Armenian Caucus letter, can send a free ANCA WebFax to their elected officials in Washington today:


For Immediate Release
Media Contact: Elizabeth S. Chouldjian
Email / Tel: (202) 775-1918 / (703) 585-8254 cell
Armenian National Committee of America
1711 N Street, NW, Washington, DC 20036
Tel. (202) 775-1918 * Fax. (202) 775-5648 *
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