Rep. Kennedy Sponsors Measure to Divert US Aid to Armenia

WASHINGTON–Congressman Patrick J. Kennedy (D-RI)–continuing to express his concerns for the treatment of the new Republic of Armenia by its neighbor Turkey–is sponsoring legislation that would take $22 million previously awarded to Turkey and re-appropriate it to Armenia for agricultural development.

"It is important that we help Armenia–which is struggling to reconstruct both its economy and build democratic institutions within its government," said Kennedy. "This help is particularly needed in many of the former republics of the Soviet Union where such ideals and possibilities are so new and hopeful."

The funds were previously awarded to Turkey under the condition that the Turkish government recognize the tragic Armenian Genocide–which took place between 1915 and 1923. In just eight years–more than 1.5 million Armenia’s lost their lives and more than 500,000 were exiled from their homeland.

The Turkish government responded by informing the US State Department and Congress that it would not accept AmeriUS assistance as long as it came with preconditions such as the recognition of the Armenian Genocide.

"The United States cannot continue to aid countries that refuse to admit to such crimes against humanity–even if they are made by our NATO allies," said Kennedy. "It is important that we–as a nation–tell countries such as Turkey that such behavior is not to be permitted."

By shifting the funds to those who were harmed by the Genocide–the sponsors of the legislation hope that it will both send a message to Turkey and provide some much needed aid for the struggling new free-market democracy–according to Kennedy.

The legislation (HR 500)–which would come at no additional cost to American taxpayers–is also being sponsored by congressmen George Radanovich (R-Calif.)–Randy Cunningham (R-Calif.)–Stephen Horn (R-Calif.)–Martin T. Meehan (D-Mass.)–Frank Pallone–Jr. (D-NJ) and Brad Sherman (D-Calif.).

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