WASHINGTON–Speaking Wednesday on the floor of the US House of Representatives–Congressman Frank Pallone called on the Clinton Administration to end more than six months of delays in the delivery of Congressionally approved humanitarian assistance to Nagorno-Karabakh.
Rep. Pallone–who co-chairs the Congressional Armenian Caucus–began his remarks by praising the decision of Congress last year to play "an extremely positive and constructive role in helping the people of Karabakh." He specifically praised the House Subcommittee on Foreign Operations of the Appropriations Committee for "providing for the first time–direct aid to Karabakh in the amount of $12.5 million." He pointed out that–after more than six months–"none of the aid has yet been provided to Karabakh. I am concerned that some elemen’s of the Administration have misinterpreted the clear intent of Congress that the aid is destined for the people of Karabakh–and instead are suggesting that some of the funds should be diverted to Azerbaijan."
In response to the Administration’s delays and the threat that the funds may be diverted from their intended purpose–Rep. Pallone announced that he "will be circulating a letter to Brian Atwood–the Administrator of the US Agency for International Development–urging that the funds be provided immediately. And I am also demanding that the entire $12.5 million be provided to Karabakh–as it was intended by Congress."
In addition–Congressman Pallone announced that he supports a $20 million earmark for Karabakh for the coming fiscal year–a figure supported by both the Armenian National Committee of America and the Armenian Assembly in their testimony this March before the House Foreign Operations Subcommittee. He stressed that the language of the fiscal year 1999 legislation should reaffirm the intent of Congress that the funds be provided directly to Karabakh–and that the aid should be used for humanitarian aid as well as to assist in the rebuilding and reconstruction of Karabakh’s infrastructure.