PALLONE LAUDS MILITARY PARITY BETWEEN ARMENIA AND AZERBAIJAN IN FINAL FUNDING BILL
Washington, D.C. --- The U.S. House of Representatives approved a giant final appropriations bill for Fiscal Year (FY) 2005 today that guarantees military parity between Armenia and Azerbaijan, said U.S. Rep. Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ). The final bill provides both Armenia and Azerbaijan $8 million in military funding. Congress' action is a direct rebuke of the Bush administration's FY 2005 budget, which proposed four times more military funding for Azerbaijan than it did for Armenia. The U.S. Senate is expected to pass the same bill later today.
"I laud my colleagues for rejecting the outrageous military imbalance that the Bush administration was encouraging," Pallone said. "Even though the President waived Section 907 in FY 2002, its principles and the commitments that were made at that time still remain fundamental to U.S. policy towards the South Caucuses. Moreover, because Azerbaijan continues its blockade of Armenia, it is more important than ever for maintaining Foreign Military Funding parity between these two nations."
Pallone, co-chairman of the Congressional Caucus on Armenian Issues, said that in addition to the military funding, Armenia also received $75 million in economic assistance and $3 million for assistance to Nagorno-Karabakh.
"I fully support maintaining a high level of economic assistance to Armenia to help the country overcome the dual blockade by Azerbaijan and Turkey, which continues to impede Armenia's economic well-being," Pallone said. "Despite the dual blockades by Azerbaijan and Turkey, Armenia continues to implement economic and democratic reforms, which have met success. While Armenia continues to make important reforms, the U.S. must continue to provide robust assistance in order to minimize the negative impacts Armenia suffers from the blockades on its east and west borders.
"I also strongly support the $3 million in assistance to the people of Nagorno-Karabakh," Pallone continued. "This support is in our country's interests and helps alleviate poor conditions many of the people face there. It is important for Congress to maintain a strong position on this funding to ensure that these critical assistance programs continue."
The funds for Armenia were included in a giant $388 billion spending bill that combines nine appropriations bills into one omnibus bill funding domestic programs and foreign operations for FY 2005, which officially began on October 1, 2004. The legislation now awaits the president's signature.