U.S. Rep. Frank Pallone Jr., Co-Chair of the Congressional Caucus on Armenian Issues, released the following statement today commending the Fiscal Year 2010 Foreign Operations Appropriations bill for its commitment to Armenia, Nagorno Karabakh and military parity between Armenia and Azerbaijan. The bill was passed through the House Committee on Appropriations last night.
"I would like to commend Chairwoman Lowey and Ranking Member Granger for their hard work and leadership on the State and Foreign Operation Appropriations bill.
"The people of Armenia continue to face an illegal dual blockade by Turkey and Azerbaijan and continue to feel the negative effects of the global recession. I strongly believe that robust U.S. assistance to Armenia will help minimize the impact of these factors and help the country strengthen its economy. Our assistance has helped economic and social institutions in Armenia and will continue to do so when provided at appropriate levels.
"Unfortunately, the Administration's budget proposal reduced funding to Armenia and broke with military parity between Armenia and Azerbaijan. I am pleased that the subcommittee rejected these recommendations, increasing aid to Armenia to $48 million. The subcommittee also restored military parity between Armenia and Azerbaijan to $3 million each in Foreign Military Financing and $450,000 in International Military Education and Training (IMET).
"I am also grateful that the subcommittee has allocated $10 million for Nagorno Karabakh in humanitarian assistance. U.S. funding has been tremendously helpful in alleviating humanitarian crises in Nagorno-Karabakh. However, I respectfully request that in moving forward with the appropriations bill, Chairwoman Lowey consider a shift in aid from humanitarian to developmental programs in Nagorno Karabakh.
"In addition, the subcommittee enhanced Section 907 restrictions on U.S. aid to Azerbaijan. Section 907 of the FREEDOM Support Act remains a fundamental element of U.S. policy toward the South Caucasus and is essential as Azerbaijan continues its blockade of Armenia and continues to use threatening language. The bill reiterates the need for all parties in the conflict to 'refrain from threats, incitement to the use of force, or other inflammatory rhetoric' and directs the Department of State to consult with the Committee on Appropriations before exercising this waiver for Fiscal Year 2010."