Congressman Schiff urges appropriators to direct at least $10 million for Nagorno-Karabakh
WASHINGTON—Armenian-Americans are joining with friends of Armenia from across the United States in making a final push for U.S. House and Senate conferees to include pro-Armenian provisions – including report language mandating at least $10 million for Nagorno Karabakh – in the Fiscal Year 2012 foreign aid bill, reported the Armenian National Committee of America.
The ANCA website – www.anca.org – hosts an action alert, complete with phone scripts, for community activists to use in calling on their legislators to support Armenian American priorities in the FY12 foreign aid bill. Among the key provisions, at this late stage of the appropriations process, requested in these calls are: 1) report language that mandates at least $10 million in development aid to Nagorno Karabakh, and 2) a continuation of military aid parity between Armenia and Azerbaijan.
To access the ANCA action alert directly, visit: http://www.capwiz.com/anca/callalert/index.tt?alertid=56310501&type=TA
Last week, Congressman Adam Schiff (D-CA) sent a letter urging the Chairmen and Ranking Members of the Senate and House Appropriations Subcommittees on State-Foreign Operations, to “direct USAID and the Department of State to focus not less than $10 million for humanitarian and development programs in the Republic of Nagorno-Karabakh.” In a statement accompanying his letter, the California legislator, who serves on this foreign aid panel, stressed that: “Given the continued drumbeat of bellicose rhetoric emanating from Azerbaijan, it is more important than ever that the United States support the right of self-determination of the people of Nagorno-Karabakh. Directing these resources to Nagorno-Karabakh will not only help the people of Karabakh cope with humanitarian crises resulting from the twin blockade by Turkey and Azerbaijan, but it will also help to stabilize the region by demonstrating our continued commitment to a peaceful resolution of the conflict.”
The full text of Rep. Schiff’s letter is provided below.
Dear Chairman Leahy, Chairman Granger and Ranking Members Graham and Lowey:
As you begin work on a final version of the FY 2012 State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs bill, I urge you to include stronger report language directing USAID and the Department of State to focus more resources on the Republic of Nagorno-Karabakh.
U.S. policy toward the South Caucasus states has included promoting the resolution of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. Given the continued drumbeat of bellicose rhetoric emanating from Azerbaijan, it is more important than ever that the United States maintain a principled stand for peace in this region and support Nagorno-Karabakh and I request that the conference report include language directing USAID to spend not less than $10 million in Fiscal Year 2012 for humanitarian and development programs in Nagorno-Karabakh.
Unfortunately, the State Department has failed to follow Congressional intent to deliver funds to Nagorno-Karabakh. From 2004 to 2010, the State Department expended less than $13 million, while Congressional intent expressed through conference reports and public law called for $46 million for humanitarian and, as of 2010, development assistance. It is therefore vital that the Congress include language requiring that not less than $10 million be expended in Fiscal Year 2012.
I appreciate the inclusion of language regarding Nagorno-Karabakh in the draft House Report that has been circulating since late July, but I believe that given past practice, the State Department will interpret anything less than an explicit directive as continued acquiescence by the Congress of the under-funding of programs in this overwhelmingly Armenian region. I share the belief that American aid must be matched by the capacity of the recipient authority to absorb the assistance, but that caveat should not be used as an excuse to shortchange friends and allies that are considered of vital importance to significant numbers of Americans as well as many Members of Congress in both chambers and from both parties.
These are challenging times for America and the world. I am confident, however, that directing additional resources to Nagorno-Karabakh will not only help the people of the Karabakh people to advance their own economy in the face of a twin blockade by Turkey and Azerbaijan, but it will also help to stabilize the region by demonstrating our continued commitment to a peaceful resolution of the conflict.