WASHINGTON—The U.S. Senate Appropriations Committee, by a bipartisan vote of 25 to 5, on Thursday overwhelmingly adopted a Fiscal Year 2015 (FY15) foreign aid legislative package that, once again, reaffirmed U.S. support for the longstanding U.S. assistance program for Nagorno Karabakh, reported the Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA).
“The Committee recommends assistance for victims of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict in amounts consistent with prior years, and for ongoing needs related to the conflict. The Committee urges a peaceful resolution of the conflict,” read the report which accompanies the State-Foreign Operations appropriations bill. Nagorno Karabakh was one of only seven aid recipients from the entire Europe and South and Central Asia region to be specifically cited by the panel. Others included Afghanistan, Pakistan, Serbia, and Kosovo.
The Committee remained silent on specific U.S. assistance levels to most countries, including the Caucasus countries, thereby essentially approving the broad outlines of President Obama’s proposed spending levels of $20.7 million in Economic Support Funds (ESF) for Armenia, along with $1.7 in Foreign Military Finance (FMF) aid and $600,000 in International Military Education and Training (IMET) funds. The President’s proposed budget maintained parity in appropriated U.S. military aid to Armenia and Azerbaijan. The measure also effectively endorsed the President’s proposal to allocate $9.6 million in Economic Support Funds to Azerbaijan, and $38.2 million in ESF and $10 million in FMF to Georgia.
The Senate version of the foreign aid bill also included language regarding Syria, instructing the Administration that funds “may be” used for programs that seek to “establish governance in Syria that is representative, inclusive, and accountable; expand the role of women in negotiations to end the violence and in any political transition in Syria . . . further the legitimacy of the Syrian opposition through cross-border programs. . .”
The House Appropriations Committee is set to consider its version of the foreign aid bill on Tuesday, June 24th at 10am EST. Following the approval of the two measures at the committee level, they will be considered by the full House and Senate. Afterwards, appropriators from the houses will convene a conference to work out differences, prior to sending a reconciled version of the legislation to the President for signature.
In testimony submitted to the House Subcommittee on State-Foreign Operations in April of this year, ANCA Government Affairs Director Kate Nahapetian urged the panel to prioritize a number of provisions, including:
1) At least $5 million in U.S. developmental aid to Nagorno Karabakh, for water and de-mining projects
2) Zero-out U.S. military aid to Azerbaijan until it ceases its aggression, renounces violence, and commits to a purely peaceful resolution of regional conflicts.
3) At least $40 million in U.S. economic assistance to Armenia.
4) In light of the recent attacks on Kessab, a special focus on the delivery of humanitarian and resettlement aid to Armenians and other at-risk minorities in Syria, as well as targeted aid to help Armenia settle thousands fleeing from Syria.
5) At least 10% of U.S. assistance to Georgia to be earmarked for job creation programs in the Samtskhe-Javakheti region of that country.
6) Language strengthening Section 907 restrictions on U.S. aid to Azerbaijan.
7) Ending the Exclusion of the Republic of Nagorno Karabakh from the peace process:
Nahapetian, in her closing remarks, underscored the increasingly central role that trade and investment should play supplanting aid as the key driver of the U.S.-Armenia economic relationship, noting: “in light of the downward trend in U.S. economic aid to Armenia, we encourage the Subcommittee to encourage the Administration to prioritize bilateral U.S.-Armenia trade and investment promotion, including through the negotiation of a Trade and Investment Framework Agreement, a Double Tax Treaty, and other economic accords. The American Chamber of Commerce in Armenia and the ANCA have formally called for expanding economic relations through such agreements, as have U.S. businesses operating in Armenia, among them Microsoft, FedEx, NASDAQ and Marriot.”
Viva to those who help independent and free Republic of Artsakh. As far as helping the peace in the region, the Western World and Russia must stop arming and selling arms to Azerbaijan. With no weapons Azerbaijan and Turkey can not even harm an ant…
If US government wants to have a foothold in South Caucasus, and reduce Russia’s double standard policy against Armenia, this will be their best opportunity to recognize Artsakhi independence ahead of Russian’s adventurism in South Caucasus!
This is in response to Russia’s aggressive approach in the southern Caucasus in wake of the Ukraine crisis. The west knows that Russia is in a hurry to consolidate its power in the region and is hastily making weapons deals with the Azeris. Russia is rebelling against the west for taking Ukraine out of its orbit. It is out to punish the west by spoiling their designs concern the regions natural resources and foothold into central Asia. However, the fear is that Armenia will be thrown under the bus in the process. If Russia can deliver Artsakh to Azerbaijan, its hegemony in the region is sealed. And way things are moving it seems clear that Russia is out to change the balance of power in the region. To spoil Russia’s own designs, it is likely that the west will start courting Armenia and Artsakh. They will use Armenia’s geographical position and unresolved relations as Russia’s achilles heel. Here is where Armenia can benefit if it plays its hand smartly. Chances like these do not come frequently, but when they do the opportunity must be seized immediately.
USA cares more about Armenia then Russia does. When was the last time you saw Russia give financial support to Artsakh? If anything Russia acts against Artsakh by arming Azerbaijan who tries to kill as much Armenian as it can. Actions speak louder than words.
Russia has not proved us that it cared about Armenia or Artsakh at all. Don’t tell me the russian military base is for defending Armenia. It is more to have russian presence in Armenia. It is not for protecting Armenia. If Azerbaijan attacks Armenia, Russia won’t defend us that’s for sure. I even think they may silently support Azerbaijan by arming them even more.
USA is not perfect. They have done mistakes too, but it can’t be compared to Russia that’s for sure. Russia did far more harm to Armenia.
Whom are you trying to fool? USA cares… only about BP & Co pipelines.
Artsakh happened to be near these pipelines able to destroy them (with Russian weapons supplied free of charge) as well as their oil and gas fields in the Caspian lake.
Hello! These appropriated funny monies never make it to Artsakh. They should at least start paying rent in real goods and services for their little Cryptopirates In Artsakh, Inc operation.
I say to the hell with your ‘help’! Please do all of us a favour and get out of the Caucasus!
Russia and United States must recognize the independence of Artsakh and stop arming Turkey and Azerbaijan. Turkey and Azerbaijan are bad news for world peace and stability.
If the US and the West were smart, they’d recognize Artsakh and lend full support to Armenia before Russia takes over the region completely and consumes pro-Western, pro-NATO, pro-EU Georgia as well. This way the West will lose only one instead of losing all three.
Russia has acknowledged and recognizes Artsakh as a de facto Armenian territory. The De jure recognition is not necessary in the circumstances since Russia would like to have Azerbaijan in its orbit. Russia does not have to pay Azerbaijan and it will not be in Russia’s geopolitical scenario to trade Artsakh. This is just the BS dramatic ululations, rants and ravings of the Russophobes. If push comes to shove Russia can and will keep Artsakh for themselves in a de Jure fashion. As a matter of fact Artsakh has already a vast and intricate network of mllitary fortifications by Russia. Russia selling guns to Azerbaijan should not cause any more discomfort than the weapons and technology provided Azerbaijan by USA-Israel. Azerbaijan is a virtual ” Israeli colony”, firmly in the grip of the USA. The Russo-Armenian alliance is irreversible and it dates back to 250 years of history. If Armenia tries to play a double game, she will pay a heavy price and it will risk her sovereignty and security. The West will not assist Armenia in the defense of her territorial integrity; the West did nothing in the aftermath of the WW1. The West will attempt to play their duplicitous politics and motivate a schism with her strategic ally Russia; for their own selfish interests. If Azerbaijan attacks Artsakh , Armenia must defend it, we do not want any foreign intervention ( Russia) to fight alongside. Artsakh was liberated by Armenian forces. Armenians fought , bled and died for the land. The war with Azerbaijan when it comes it will short, swift and decisive. Azerbaijan will be defeated. The Avars, The talish and theLezgins ( oppressed minorities in Azerbaijani territories waiting to gain their autonomy) will ally themselves with Armenia ; Azerbaijan will be dismembered.
Whichever power demands and supports the implimentation of a Wilsonian Armenia, will get Armenia. But that’s defeatist. Armenia needs to take out Azerbaijian, and partition the country into ethnic republics, Muslim or not, and everyone benefits. Iran gets some, Russia gets something, and Armenia gets Baku, and much oil. If we respect the “in place negociated contracts”, the west will not intervene. They will pay some lip service at first, but as long as the oil flows, all will be well. I don’t know how a gang of Tatar thieves managed to cower a whole country under their sway. They need to be put on a reservation, a tTatar Mugham republic, something like a drive through zoo.