For Immediate Release
Contact: Elizabeth S. Chouldjian
KEY SENATE PANEL APPROVES $90 MILLION FOR ARMENIA; MAINTAINS SECTION 907 AND URGES ALLOCATION OF AID APPROPRIATED FOR KARABAGH
ANCA National Grassroots Campaign Helped Educate Senate Subcommittee about Importance of the U.S. Aid Program to Armenia
WASHINGTON, DC – The U.S. Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Foreign Operations today approved a fiscal year 2002 foreign aid bill which includes a $90 million earmark for Armenia, language directing that aid to Nagorno Karabagh be disbursed in a timely manner, and which preserves the Section 907 restrictions on U.S. aid to the government of Azerbaijan, reported the Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA).
During a Subcommittee “mark-up” this afternoon, the panel, chaired by Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) finalized its version of the $15.4 billion foreign aid bill. The House version of this bill, which was adopted on July 24th, included an $82.5 million allocation for Armenia, a $7.5 million reduction from the fiscal year 2001 level.
Among the Subcommitte members who were especially supportive of the Senate’s $90 million earmark were Ranking Member Mitch McConnell (R-KY), Jack Reed (D-RI), Richard Durbin (D-IL), and Barbara Mikulski (D-MD).
“We deeply appreciate the steps taken by the Senate Foreign Operations Subcommittee to help restore aid to Armenia to at least last year’s level of $90 million,” said ANCA Executive Director Aram Hamparian. “We were especially pleased that our many long-time friends on this panel, in particular Senators McConnell, Mikulski, and Durbin, were joined today in their consideration of the fiscal year 2002 foreign aid bill by Senator Jack Reed of Rhode Island, who recently joined the Subcommittee and has added tremendously to its deliberations over the U.S. aid program to Armenia.”
The Subcommittee adopted the following language on aid to Armenia:
“The Committee has provided $90,000,000 for Armenia and urges the Armenian Government to continue to accelerate economic reforms. The Committee expects that not less than $5,000,000 of these funds will be provided to the Government of Armenia for an education initiative, including the provision of computers and Internet access to primary and secondary schools. The Committee is aware of the work of the Armenian Technology Group in assisting the Armenian private sector in a seed multiplication program. The Committee continues to support the expansion of these efforts in additional countries in the Central Asia region.”
The following language was adopted regarding U.S. aid to Azerbaijan:
“The Committee has included a provision which continues current law relating to section 907 of the Freedom Support Act, by restating an exemption that allows for humanitarian and certain other types of assistance to the region, including for refugees and displaced persons.”
With regard to Nagorno Karabagh, the Subcommittee adopted the following language:
“The Committee continues to be concerned about the plight of victims of the Nagorno Karabagh conflict, and expects that the remainder of the $20,000,000 in humanitarian assistance, initially provided for in the fiscal year 1998 Act, will be promptly disbursed.”
Throughout the House and Senate process, local ANC chapters have encouraged Armenian Americans from across the country to contact their Members of Congress in support of maintaining assistance levels to Armenia at least at the fiscal year 2001 level of $90 million, and restricting U.S. aid to Azerbaijan due to its ongoing blockades of Armenia and Nagorno Karabagh.
The ANCA will continue to support increased aid to Armenia throughout the remainder of the Senate appropriations process, which will likely not be completed until after the August recess, and will encourage Armenian Americans to share their concerns on this subject with the members of the joint Senate-House conference. Committee. This committee will be created to reconcile the two versions of the fiscal year 2002 foreign aid bill.