YEREVAN (Armenpress)—US Ambassador to Armenia Marie Yovanovitch told a press conference Tuesday that the reason for the disparity in the 2010 foreign aid budget between Armenia and Azerbaijan is because the US has certain interests in the Caspian Basin.
Yovanovitch, who was speaking alongside visiting US Assistant Secretary of State Phillip Gordon, explained that those interests included the fight against drug trafficking and terrorism.
Despite a 9% increase in overall foreign aid spending, President Barack Obama has 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.
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.
Yovanovitch last month defended the Obama administration’s decision to request a 38% cut in aid to Armenia, arguing that the President’s request was an increase from the last Bush Administration budget request, Public Radio of Armenia reported.
The Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA) described Obama’s cut as “disappointing” and a “sharp reversal” from his campaign pledges to support US-Armenia relations.
The President’s budget is set to be reviewed by the Foreign Operations Subcommittees of the House and Senate Appropriation Committees. Each subcommittee has the prerogative to draft their own versions of the FY 2010 foreign assistance bill.
The ANCA is urging Armenian-American activists to send a free ANCA WebFax to their U.S. Representative and two U.S. Senators asking them to urge members of the State-Foreign Operations Subcommittees to reverse the cut and support a $70 million economic assistance package for Armenia.
The action alert also calls on Congress to tighten restrictions on U.S. assistance to Azerbaijan; increase military aid to Armenia and ensure parity with Azerbaijan; increase aid to Nagorno Karabakh for both humanitarian and developmental projects; include language urging Azerbaijan to accept confidence-building measures; and remove restrictions on interaction between U.S. and Nagorno Karabakh officials.
To send the webfax, visit: http://www.capwiz.com/anca/issues/alert/?alertid=13315831