WASHINGTON (Noyan Tapan)–The Armenian Assembly commended US Congressional Caucus on Armenian Issues Co-Chair Representative Joe Knollenberg (R-MI)–along with Caucus Co-Chair Frank Pallone–Jr. (D-NJ)–and Caucus members Joseph Crowley (D-NY) and John Sweeney (R-NY) today for introducing a congressional resolution that discourages the use of American taxpayers’ funds for energy transportation projects in the Caucasus if they exclude consideration of trans-Armenian routes. The resolution also recommen’s that the Trade Development Agency fund a feasibility study to determine the cost savings of a trans-Armenia Baku-Ceyhan pipeline.
According to the press release of the Armenian Assembly of America–the resolution introduced in the House of Representatives states that the US should not subsidize pipelines "whose commercial viability is in doubt or which hinders the United States’ goal of integrating Armenia into a secure and prosperous regional economic framework." The resolution calls for all proposals to be evaluated and ensure the inclusion of all Caucasus countries.
The current Azerbaijani government is opposed to any economic cooperation with Armenia. Instead–together with Turkey–Azerbaijan has blockaded Armenia for a decade. Azerbaijan has tried and failed to force Armenia into concessions in the Nagorno-Karabakh issue by isolating the country politically and economically. Government officials have repeatedly indicated that Armenia would be excluded from a Baku-Ceyhan pipeline route.
"Secretary of State Colin Powell has said that Armenia’s integration into international institutions remains a foreign policy priority for the United States. The resolution ensures Armenia’s participation with its neighbors in important economic and commercial projects," said Knollenberg. "I am pleased to have the opportunity to champion this effort."
"Azerbaijan’s Baku-Ceyhan pipeline has been a dubious proposition from Day One. To the extent that taxpayer funds are going to be used–we think Congress should insist on consideration of the more direct route across Armenia and thereby save between $400 million to $700 million," said the Assembly’s Board of Directors Chairman Van Z. Krikorian. "If Senator Proxmire were still here–we expect the current Baku-Ceyhan scheme would have already won the Golden Fleece Award."Congressmen Knollenberg–Pallone–Crowley and Sweeney are leading efforts to draw attention to this issue so critical to Armenia and the Caucasus region and we appreciate their hard work and commitment."