WASHINGTON–U.S. Reps. Frank Pallone Jr., (D-NJ) and Mark Kirk (R-IL), the two co-chairs of the Congressional Caucus on Armenian Issues, pledged Friday to work with their congressional colleagues to increase economic assistance to Armenia and Karabakh beyond the Administration’s decreased budget proposal issued on Thursday, a joint statement from their offices said.
“As co-chairs of the Armenia Caucus, we are confident that as the FY10 appropriations process moves forward, Congress will increase economic assistance to Armenia beyond the Administration’s budget proposal and will provide aid to Nagorno Karabakh,” the two said in a joint statement issued Friday.
The Administration budget proposal broke with military parity between Armenia and Azerbaijan and reduced Armenia’s economic aid by 37.5 percent.
According to Kirk and Pallone, the budget allocates $3 million in Foreign Military Financing (FMF) and $300,000 in International Military Education and Training (IMET) to Armenia, while providing Azerbaijan with $4 million in FMF and $900,000 in IMET funds. Economic assistance to Armenia, funded through the Freedom Support Act, totaled $30 million, an $18 million reduction from what Congress appropriated last year.
“Over the past year, President Aliyev of Azerbaijan has repeatedly made bellicose statements in regards to Nagorno Karabakh,” the statement said, adding that the co-chairs will work to uphold Section 907 of the Freedom Support Act, which prohibits military funding to Azerbaijan.
“If this is not possible, we will work with Congress to restore the long-standing tradition of providing military parity between the two countries, which was promised in the aftermath of the September 11th attacks,” the statement added.