WASHINGTON–President Bill Clinton today signed into law the fiscal year 1998 Foreign Aid Bill Wednesday as approved by Congress–sending $12.5 million in humanitarian aid for the people of Nagorno-Karabakh.
The bill also contained $87.5 million in direct aid to Armenia.
It also retains the ban on government to government assistance to Azerbaijan.
However–an exemption for the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC) to provide political risk insurance to US companies investing in Azerbaijan was allowed–as was Trade and Development Agency funding for feasibility studies and other related economic development projects.
The Azeri and international oil lobby opposed direct humanitarian assistance for the people of Karabakh–however–after reviewing the facts Congress overrode this opposition.
During discussion in the House Foreign Operations Alabama Republican Sonny Callahan left no doubt as to the intentions of Congress with regards to the humanitarian aid allotted for the people of Nagorno-Karabakh.
Callahan commended the decision "to include $12.5 million in humanitarian aid for the people of Nagorno-Karabakh."
Senator Mitch McConnell also emphasized the importance for providing funds "to assist the victims of the Nagorno-Karabakh and Abkhaz conflicts" during his floor statemen’s.
OPIC will be allowed to provide political risk insurance to US companies and guarantee their investmen’s in Azerbaijan by as much as $200 million per project.
The Trade and Development Agency will also be permitted to provide US companies as much as $5 million each to conduct feasibility studies on economic development in Azerbaijan.
Border control assistance to Azerbaijan as well as exemptions for humanitarian aid and democracy building are included.
A $52.5 million fund for discretionary spending in the Caucasus region has been provided to restore "transportation–telecommunications–and other infrastructure that promote regional economic integration" between the states of the Caucasus.
Azerbaijan is not eligible to receive this new funding until it complies with Section 907 of the Freedom Support Act and lifts its blockades of Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh.