Today, Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) sent a letter to the Chairmen and Ranking Members of the Senate and House Appropriations Subcommittees on State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs, Sens. Patrick Leahy and Lindsey Graham, and Reps. Kay Granger and Nita Lowey, urging them to direct USAID and the Department of State to focus not less than $10 million for humanitarian and development programs in the Republic of Nagorno-Karabakh.
"Given the continued drumbeat of bellicose rhetoric emanating from Azerbaijan, it is more important than ever that the United States support the right of self-determination of the people of Nagorno-Karabakh," Rep. Schiff said. "Directing these resources to Nagorno-Karabakh will not only help the people of the Karabakh cope with humanitarian crises resulting from the twin blockade by Turkey and Azerbaijan, but it will also help to stabilize the region by demonstrating our continued commitment to a peaceful resolution of the conflict."
Please find the full text of Rep. Schiff's letter below:
Dear Chairman Leahy, Chairman Granger and Ranking Members Graham and Lowey:
As you begin work on a final version of the FY 2012 State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs bill, I urge you to include stronger report language directing USAID and the Department of State to focus more resources on the Republic of Nagorno-Karabakh.
U.S. policy toward the South Caucasus states has included promoting the resolution of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. Given the continued drumbeat of bellicose rhetoric emanating from Azerbaijan, it is more important than ever that the United States maintain a principled stand for peace in this region and support Nagorno-Karabakh and I request that the conference report include language directing USAID to spend not less than $10 million in Fiscal Year 2012 for humanitarian and development programs in Nagorno-Karabakh.
Unfortunately, the State Department has failed to follow Congressional intent to deliver funds to Nagorno-Karabakh. From 2004 to 2010, the State Department expended less than $13 million, while Congressional intent expressed through conference reports and public law called for $46 million for humanitarian and, as of 2010, development assistance. It is therefore vital that the Congress include language requiring that not less than $10 million be expended in Fiscal Year 2012.
I appreciate the inclusion of language regarding Nagorno-Karabakh in the draft House Report that has been circulating since late July, but I believe that given past practice, the State Department will interpret anything less than an explicit directive as continued acquiescence by the Congress of the under-funding of programs in this overwhelmingly Armenian region. I share the belief that American aid must be matched by the capacity of the recipient authority to absorb the assistance, but that caveat should not be used as an excuse to shortchange friends and allies that are considered of vital importance to significant numbers of Americans as well as many Members of Congress in both chambers and from both parties.
These are challenging times for America and the world. I am confident, however, that directing additional resources to Nagorno-Karabakh will not only help the people of the Karabakh people to advance their own economy in the face of a twin blockade by Turkey and Azerbaijan, but it will also help to stabilize the region by demonstrating our continued commitment to a peaceful resolution of the conflict.
ADAM B. SCHIFF
Member of Congress