WASHINGTON, DC – President Barack Obama’s fiscal year 2011 (FY11) budget, released earlier today, calls for $40 million in assistance to Armenia — $10 million more than his FY10 request, but still $1 million less than the total appropriated by Congress last year, reported the Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA).
The figure, while representing a substantial increase over the President’s last request, falls just short of the $41 million actually appropriated last year by Congress, and far short of the $70 million request that was made last year by the Armenian Caucus and broadly supported by Armenian American advocacy organizations.
The President’s budget proposes maintaining Foreign Military Financing (FMF) assistance parity between Armenia and Azerbaijan, requesting $3.5 million for each country. In past years, the White House has sought to tilt the military aid balance in support of Baku, only to have its efforts rejected by Congress, which has consistently ensured balanced FMF figures for the two nations. The Administration did not extend the parity principle to International Military Training, Education, and Training (IMET), instead seeking to provide twice as much for Azerbaijan ($900,000) than Armenia ($450,000) in this area.
The President requested $22.12 million in assistance to Azerbaijan, $120,000 more than appropriated by Congress last year. The President’s overall assistance request for Europe and Eurasia is $599,164,000, which represents a reduction of $11,818,000 from the previous year.
“We welcome the decision by the Obama Administration to ask for $10 million more in economic aid to Armenia this year than he did last year, and also his proposal to maintain parity in a key area of military aid to Armenia and Azerbaijan,” said Aram Hamparian, Executive Director of the ANCA. “We want to offer our special thanks to Representatives Frank Pallone, Adam Schiff, Anna Eshoo, and Jackie Speier – and, of course, Nita Lowey – for their energetic efforts in sharing with the Administration how increased aid and support for Armenia advances both U.S. interests and American values in a strategically important area of the world. We look forward, as well, to working with all our Congressional friends in building on these numbers and securing the adoption of increased aid levels and constructive policy provisions that will contribute to the strengthening of the U.S.-Armenia relationship and the search for a fair and lasting peace in the region.”
The proposed assistance to Armenia is a significant improvement over the FY10 request, which called for a 38% 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. The ANCA led the Armenian American community in expressing its concerns to the Administration last year, and working with the Congressional Armenian Caucus and members of the Senate and House Foreign Appropriations Subcommittee on Foreign operations to increase the figures.
The Foreign Operations Subcommittees of the House and Senate Appropriation Committees will now review the President’s budget and each draft their own versions of the FY11 foreign assistance bill.