WASHINGTON–Thirty-nine House members cosigned a letter this week initiated by Congressional Armenian Caucus Co-Chairmen Frank Pallone (D-NJ) and Joe Knollenberg (R-MI) urging the leaders of the US House State-Foreign Operations Appropriations Subcommittee to support provisions in the FY09 foreign aid bill that advance US interests and American values in Armenia and the surrounding
region, reported the Armenian National Committee of America
"We want to thank Congressmen Knollenberg and Pallone and all those who joined with the Armenian Caucus in this initiative to promote a balanced and constructive path toward peace and development in the Caucasus region," said ANCA Executive Director Aram Hamparian. "Armenian Americans look forward to working hard to help enact the foreign aid priorities outlined in this letter, including, notably, the bipartisan effort to put an end to the artificial diplomatic isolation that the Azerbaijani government has sought to impose upon Nagorno Karabakh by trying to block nearly all US contacts and communication with the people and democratically elected leaders of the Nagorno Karabakh Republic."
The letter, addressed to Subcommittee Chairwoman Nita Lowey (D-NY) and Ranking Member Frank Wolf (R-VA), outlines six key policy priorities:
1. Cutting all military aid to Azerbaijan due to its threats of renewed war
2. Allocating $5 million in military aid to Armenia
3. Continuing Section 907 of the Freedom Support Act
4. Allocating $70 million in economic aid to Armenia
5. Allocating $10 million in development aid to Nagorno Karabakh
6. Restoring diplomatic relations with Nagorno Karabakh
Joining Armenian Caucus Co-Chairmen Pallone and Knollenberg were Representatives Joe Baca (D-CA), Lois Capps (D-CA), Michael Capuano (D-MA), Dennis Cardoza (D-CA), Jim Costa (D-CA), Anna Eshoo (D-CA), Chaka Fattah (D-PA), Barney Frank (D-MA), Elton Gallegly (R-CA), Scott Garrett (R-NJ), Raul Grijalva (D-AZ), Rush Holt (D-NJ), Dale Kildee (D-MI), Mark Kirk (R-IL), James Langevin (D-RI), Sander Levin (D-MI), Frank LoBiondo (R-NJ), Stephen Lynch (D-MA), Carolyn Maloney (D-NY), Edward Markey (D-MA), James McGovern (D-MA), Michael McNulty (D-NY), Candice Miller (R-MI), Grace Napolitano (D-CA), Collin Peterson (D-MN), George Radanovich (R-CA), Mike Rogers(R-MI), Bobby Rush (D-IL), John Sarbanes (D-MD), Brad Sherman (D-CA), Mark Souder (R-IN), Christopher Van Hollen (D-MD), Timothy Walz (D-MN), Diane Watson (D-CA), Henry Waxman (D-CA), Anthony
Weiner (D-NY) and Lynn Woolsey (D-CA).
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 Karabakh. Last week’s renewed attacks by the Azerbaijani army in the area of Levonarkh in Mardakert, led to as many as eight deaths. The Nagorno Karabakh Foreign Ministry has asked that the "OSCE launch a comprehensive investigation of the incident, give an official political evaluation of the Azeri authorities’ actions, as well as conduct an immediate crisis-monitoring in the incident zone, in order to prevent similar violations in future."
Members of Congress, led by the Armenian Caucus, are seeking to reverse the proposed cut in aid to Armenia and to enact a constructive set of foreign policies toward Armenia and the region.