WASHINGTON–Negotiators representing the U.S. House and Senate appear to have agreed upon fiscal year 2008 assistance figures for Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh. The figure levels are substantially less than last year and have come as part of a far-reaching agreement on foreign aid and other appropriations measures that is set to be adopted soon by both houses of Congress, reported the Armenian National Committee of America.
The agreement includes $58.5 million in assistance to Armenia and $3 million in direct aid to Nagorno-Karabakh. It also reverses the Administration’s latest bid to retreat from its 2001 pledge to maintain in military aid to Armenia and Azerbaijan.
"We are troubled by the reductions in aid to Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh, particularly in light of the ongoing economic costs of the Turkish and Azerbaijani blockades, as well as Baku’s increasingly violent rhetoric about restarting its war against the Armenia’s," said ANCA Executive Director Aram Hamparian. "We thank all of our friends in the appropriations process who, working against significant competing budgetary pressures–were able to deliver figures higher than the President’s request, and also to maintain military aid parity."
In addition to the Armenia and Karabakh allocations, the omnibus aid bill also includes $50.5 million for Georgia and $19 million for Azerbaijan. Millennium Challenge Account funding is set for $1.5 billion, half of President Bush’s request.
On June 12, the House adopted its version of the FY08 foreign bill, earmarking $68 million for Armenia, $6 million in direct assistance to Nagorno Karabakh, and maintaining parity in the levels of U.S. military aid to Armenia and Azerbaijan. This represented a 48.5% increase over the President’s budget request for Armenia, but less than the $75 million sought by the ANCA.
The Senate version, adopted on September 6, called for only $39 million in aid to Armenia, $4 million above the President’s request, but considerably less than the ANCA request. The Senate bill neither set a specific dollar amount for Nagorno-Karabakh nor addressed the issue of military aid parity.
Thousands of Armenian Americans have communicated to their legislators on this issue via an ANCA Congressional Call In Campaign: http://capwiz.com/anca/home
In testimony submitted to the Foreign Operations Subcommittee on March 29, ANCA Government Affairs Director Kate Nahapetian touched upon a number of key issues, including: Restoring parity in all military aid to Armenia and Azerbaijan; Increasing economic Assistance to Armenia to at least $75 million; Expanding U.S. Assistance to Nagorno-Karabakh to at least $10 million in both humanitarian and development aid, and; Preserving Section 907 of the Freedom Support Act. The full text of the ANCA’s testimony is available at:
In February of this year, in letters to leading Appropriators in the House and Senate, the ANCA outlined the Armenian American community’s foreign aid priorities.