WASHINGTONRepresentative George Radanovich (R-Calif.) has introduced legislation to help Armenia restructure its agricultural markets to increase trade with the United States and help ensure agricultural self-sufficiency for its three and a half million citizens–reported the Armenian National Committee of America.
In remarks on the floor of the House of Representatives Tuesday–Rep. Radanovich described his legislation as "an ambitious and progressive plan" designed to assist the people of Armenia while promoting agricultural investmen’s and increasing trade with the United States. "Ultimately–if Armenia is able to feed itself–its people will directly benefit from improved public health and nutrition standards."
He also stressed that strengthening agriculture in Armenia will help advance US interests in the region. "Improvement to Armenia’s agricultural sector–specifically in the area of wheat seed development–is in the direct interest of the United States and our desire to secure the advantages of a stable Caucasus region" he explained. This legislation–he added–will empower the private sector transition in Armenia toward a market economy–establish new markets for the US–and enhance exports of US agricultural products.
"We would like to thank Congressman Radanovich for his leadership in introducing the Armenian Assistance Act," said Aram Hamparian–ANCA Executive Director. "We share the Congressman’s commitment to Armenian agricultural self-sufficiency–as well as his confidence in the ability of the Armenian Technology Group to effectively implement agricultural market reforms and to bring to Armenia the benefits of technical advances in farming and veterinary medicine."
Congressman Encourages Involvement by the Armenian Technology Group
Rep. Radanovich placed special emphasis on the implementation of agricultural renewal programs in Armenia–which he proposed be conducted by the Armenian Technology Group–a Fresno-based non-profit organization. "Over the past several years–ATG has been involved in similar programs in the area. It should be noted that–80 percent of the organization’s operational funding has been generated from the private and public sectors–and only 20 percent from US Government sources," he said.
He also noted that "ATG has been effective in implementing its programs by working directly with the people of Armenia–in assisting them in their transition toward a market economy–and in helping build democracy from the bottom up."
Funding to Come from US Economic Aid Rejected Last Year by Turkey To fund this program–Congressman Radanovich has proposed redirecting economic aid appropriated last year to Turkey but rejected by the Turkish government following the decision by the House of Representatives to cut $3 million in aid to Turkey because of its ongoing denial of the Armenian Genocide. He pointed out to his House colleagues that:
In the 104th Congress the Government of Turkey was appropriated $22 million in economic support aid. Initially the aid was dependent on Turkey’s long-awaited recognition of the Armenian Genocide. A belligerent Ankara reacted to the House Genocide clause–a reasonable amendment which I was privileged to introduce and lead in eventual passage in the House–by telling the US State Department and the US Congress that Turkey would not accept US aid with preconditions such as the recognition of the Armenian Genocide. Amazingly–Turkey was given the support and was not asked to recognize the Genocide. All this despite their declaration to decline US economic aid–while countries such as Armenia were in dire need of financial support.
Radanovich went on to explain that "The Armenian Assistance Act proposes to redirect the $22 million or any remaining amount not yet obligated from the fiscal year 1997 Foreign Appropriations Act in economic support aid for Turkey–and transfer those funds to Armenia for agricultural development. I am certain that Armenia has been–and will continue to be–grateful for the support of the US government and the American taxpayer."