WASHINGTON–Despite a 9% increase in overall foreign aid spending, President Barack Obama on Thursday called for a38% cut in aid to Armenia, a 20% increase in aid to Azerbaijan, and the abandonment of the longstanding Armenia-Azerbaijan military aid parity agreement in favor of Baku, reported the Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA).
These figures, released today as part of the President’s Fiscal Year (FY) 2010 budget, represent a sharp departure from the President’s campaign commitments to maintain U.S. assistance to Armenia and to foster its growth and development through aid and trade. In January of 2008 and again only days before the November election, the President said he would “help foster Armenia’s growth and development through expanded trade and targeted aid,” adding that he will also, “strengthen the commercial, political, military, developmental, and cultural relationships between the U.S. and Armenian governments.”
“President Obama, despite his promise to maintain U.S. assistance to Armenia and his campaign commitment to help foster Armenia’s growth and development, has called for a thirty-eight percent cut in aid to Armenia,” said Aram Hamparian, Executive Director of the ANCA. “His proposal to sharply reduce vitally needed assistance to Armenia, even as he is increasing overall foreign aid spending, is all the more disappointing in light of the urgent economic challenges facing Armenia.”
President Obama’s budget calls for $30 million in U.S. aid to Armenia, down 38% from the FY09 allocation of $48 million. Under his proposal, funding for Azerbaijan would increase 20% from $18.5 million to $22.12 million. The complete international affairs budget proposed by the White House is $53,872,901.
In Foreign Military Finance spending, President Obama has requested $4 million for Azerbaijan and only $3 million for Armenia, while funds for International Military Education and Training (IMET) represent an even starker break in the parity agreement struck between Congress and the White House in 2001, with $900,000 being proposed for Azerbaijan and $450,000 for Armenia.
The Foreign Operations Subcommittees of the House and Senate Appropriation Committees will now review the President’s budget and each draft their own versions of the FY 2010 foreign assistance bill.