Clinton Administration to Waive Corridor Act

* Rep. Pallone leads Congressional opposition to administration’s action.

WASHINGTON–The State Department informed members of the House International Relations Committee this week that President Clinton will–again–waive the Humanitarian Aid Corridor Act sanction as it pertains to Turkey–clearing the way for continued US foreign aid to Turkey–despite that nation’s ongoing blockade of US humanitarian assistance to Armenia–reported the Armenian National Committee of America.

"We are disappointed that the Administration–in disregard of the clearly expressed will of Congress–has again set aside the reasonable standards which rightfully govern the distribution of our nation’s foreign assistance," said Aram Hamparian–Executive Director of the ANCA.

"This decision–which serves only to encourage the continuation of Turkey’s illegal blockade of Armenia–reflects the State Department’s short-sighted policy of turning a blind eye to any and all offenses–foreign and domestic–committed by the Turkish government," he added.

The Corridor Act–which was spearheaded during the last Congress by former Senate Majority Leader Bob Dole (R-Kan.) and Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ)–prohibits foreign aid to any country which obstructs the delivery of US humanitarian assistance to a third country. Though not country specific–the provision directly affects Turkey–which has blockaded Armenia’since early 1993.

The Corridor Act became permanent law in 1996 when Congress amended the provision to the Foreign Assistance Act. The legislation includes a waiver which allows the President to continue aid to specific nations if he determines that such assistance is in the national interest.

Rep. Pallone Expresses Disappointment at Presidential Waiver

In a statement Thursday on the House floor–the Co-Chairman of the Armenian Issues Caucus–Frank Pallone (D-NJ)–expressed his disappointment at President Clinton’s decision to waive the Corridor Act–which–he stated–comes "in spite of the fact that Turkey is maintaining an illegal and downright cruel blockade of the Republic of Armenia."

Noting that the justification provided by the State Department is "not very convincing," Congressman Pallone argued that the timing of waiver is "at the least–inappropriate," since next week marks the "82nd Anniversary of the beginning of the Genocide against the Armenian people." The Congressman explained that he "bear[s] no ill-will to the Turkish people. I am simply saying that maintaining good relations should not entail turning a blind eye to the outrageous actions committed by Turkey."

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