Washington, DC – House Appropriations Subcommittee on Foreign Operations Chairwoman Nita Lowey (D-NY) and senior panel member, Armenian Caucus Co-Chair Joe Knollenberg (R-MI), expressed concern about the Administration’s proposed drastic reductions in U.S. foreign aid to Armenia during recent Congressional hearings on U.S. foreign assistance, reported the Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA).
“We would like to thank Chairwoman Lowey and Rep. Knollenberg for their efforts to reverse the proposed cuts in U.S. assistance to Armenia,” stated ANCA Executive Director Aram Hamparian. “We look forward to working with members of the House and Senate Appropriations committees to secure appropriate levels of aid to Armenia, direct development aid to Nagorno Karabagh, and to block the Administration’s latest bid to break its own agreement to maintain parity in military assistance to Armenia and Azerbaijan.”
Armenian Americans can express their concerns about proposed cuts in Armenia foreign aid by sending a free ANCA WebFax to their Senators and Representative at:
During a hearing featuring the testimony of Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Amb. John Danilovich, held on February 26th, Chairwoman Lowey questioned the wisdom of reducing U.S. aid to countries like Armenia when the effect of MCC assistance to the country “may not be felt for years.” Rep. Lowey explained that “current program implementation data shows that these programs are not yet demonstrating significant impact. Yet, these countries are losing health and development resources quickly.”
Armenia signed a $235.7 million compact with MCC, focused on rural development and poverty reduction programs. In his testimony, Amb. Danilovich cited successes in compact countries around the world, including Armenia, where “more than 2,450 participants, of which almost a quarter are women, have been trained in on-farm water management to increase production.” Amb. Danilovich’s complete testimony may be read at:
During a subsequent House Appropriations Subcommittee on Foreign Operations hearing with Henrietta Fore, U.S. Director of Foreign Assistance and Administrator of USAID, held on February 27th, Rep. Knollenberg expressed concerns about the Administration’s bid to reduce U.S. aid to Armenia by 44% in light of the ongoing illegal blockades by both Turkey and Azerbaijan. Fore noted that “Armenia is a very important country for us.” She indicated that Armenia “has made great strides” and is “one of the success stories,” stating that, per capita, Armenia has the highest foreign assistance rate in Eurasia.
The President’s Fiscal Year 2009 (FY2009) budget recommends cutting U.S. economic aid to Armenia from the FY2008 estimated level of $58 million to a proposed level of $24 million – a cut of nearly 60% and $11 million less than his FY2008 request. This dramatic reduction to Armenia, a nation economically blockaded by Turkey and Azerbaijan, takes place against the backdrop of assistance proposals to other Independent States of the Former Soviet Union that are either remaining constant or experiencing increases. According to the President’s figures, Georgia, for example, would receive $52 million, while Azerbaijan, which is collecting billions in oil revenues, is set to receive $19.5 million. The President’s budget proposal does not include any specific assistance figures for Nagorno Karabagh.
In a related foreign aid matter, Virginia Republican Frank Wolf urged the MCC to add a “genocide” indicator to its assistance criteria, to ensure that no country receiving U.S. assistance is a perpetrator or enabler of the act of genocide. Rep. Wolf has indicated that he would advance an amendment to the foreign assistance bill in this regard.