Maintains Karabakh aid; keeps military assistance parity in FY 2012 Foreign Aid bill
WASHINGTON—The Senate and House finalized the Fiscal Year 2012 FY12) U.S. foreign assistance package this past weekend, approving $40 million in U.S. assistance to Armenia, maintaining current funding levels for Nagorno Karabakh, and calling for military assistance parity for Armenia and Azerbaijan, reported the Armenian National Committee of America.
“Armenian Americans want to thank all our friends among the memberships of the appropriating committees on both the House and Senate sides for enforcing military aid parity and for holding the line on aid to Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh Republic (Artsakh) in the face of across the board cuts in America’s foreign aid spending,” said Aram Hamparian, Executive Director of the ANCA. “We will, in the coming months, work to materially help families in the homeland, through increased aid to Armenia and a clear mandate for an expanded developmental aid program for Karabakh in the FY13 foreign aid bill, as well as, the granting of a second Millennium Challenge package to Armenia, and the negotiation of bilateral U.S.-Armenia economic accords to expand trade and foster job-creation.”
In terms of U.S. aid to the Caucasus, Congress approved President Obama’s proposed economic assistance levels, including $40 million for Armenia, $16.6 million for Azerbaijan, and $66 million for Georgia. In a report accompanying the foreign aid bill, Senate and House conferees made specific mention that there should be parity in both Foreign Military Finance (FMF) and International Military Education and Training (IMET) levels to Armenia and Azerbaijan. While President Obama had requested $3 million in FMF funding for each country, the IMET funds he had proposed for Azerbaijan ($900,000) were twice that for Armenia.
Congress also agreed to provide assistance for Nagorno Karabakh “at levels consistent with prior years, and for ongoing needs related to the conflict,” while urging a “peaceful resolution of the conflict.” U.S. assistance spending levels to Karabakh have been approximately $2 million a year, despite higher Congressional recommendations.
ANCA Government Affairs Director Kate Nahapetian had outlined key community foreign aid priorities in testimony submitted to the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Foreign Operations earlier this year.
The full text of her testimony is available at: http://www.anca.org/assets/pdf/testimony/2011.pdf
The foreign assistance package was part of an “omnibus” bill which set funding levels for nine critical areas including defense, energy and water, financial services, homeland security, interior/environment, labor/health and human services/education, the legislative branch, military construction/veterans affairs, and State/foreign operations.
Congress will begin consideration of the FY13 foreign aid levels as early as March of 2013.
Prosperous Armenia Party to Seek Election on Its Own
YEREVAN (RFE/RL)—Prosperous Armenia Party, led by businessman Gagik Tsarukian, insisted on Wednesday that it has no plans to form an alliance with President Serzh Sarkisian for the forthcoming parliamentary elections.
Naira Zohrabian, a senior member of the Prosperous Armenia Party said her party expects to contest the elections slated for next May on its own. She dismissed renewed media speculation to the contrary.
Media reports this month have claimed that Tsarukian will not only reaffirm support for Sarkisian’s reelection in 2013 but also agree to the formation of an electoral bloc comprising Prosperous Armenia, the presidential Republican Party of Armenia and the Country of Law Party (Orinats Yerkir), the other partner in the country’s governing coalition.
A senior Republican Party representative said last week that the three parties are now looking for ways of “cooperating” in the polls.
“There have been no discussions on the joint list [of candidates,] neither within our party nor within the coalition,” Zohrabian told RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun.am). “I can’t understand why the topic has been put into circulation.”
Zohrabian cited in that context an October 3 interview in which Tsarukian said his party intends to participate in the 2012 elections single-handedly. “Nothing has changed or made us reconsider our position,” she said.
In that interview, Tsarukian also pointedly declined to state whom he and his party will support in the 2013 presidential election.