NORA Criticizes State Department Attack on 907

*Calls on House Republicans to oppose the Repeal of Section 907.

WASHINGTON–The National Organization of Republican Armenia’s criticized the Clinton State Department and House Appropriations Committee Chairman Bob Livingston for backing an amendment–adopted yesterday by the Appropriations panel–which would repeal the Section 907 restriction on US aid to Azerbaijan.

In letters sent today to House Republicans–NORA called for the repeal of the "Livingston Amendment" when the foreign aid bill reaches the House floor. In the days leading up to yesterday’s vote–NORA had sent a series of letters to each of the Republican members of the House Appropriations Committee urging them to vote against the Livingston Amendment. NORA activists in key states followed up on these letters by directing faxes and phone calls to panel members.

In a September 9 letter sent to the panel–NORA Executive Director Ara Bedrosian urged Committee members to "stand by our party’s enduring principles by resisting the oil industry’s pressure to send US tax dollars to Azerbaijan’s corrupt and undemocratic government. In addition to representing a misuse of taxpayer funds–the weakening of Section 907 would damage US interests in the strategically important Caspian region by rewarding Azerbaijan for blockading its neighbors. Sending US tax dollars to former KGB general Haydar Aliyev will only encourage the Azerbaijani government to maintain its blockades."

The opposition to the Livingston Amendment was spearheaded by Illinois Republican John Edward Porter–who serves as co-chair of the Congressional Armenian Caucus. In his remarks during debate on the measure–Rep. Porter stressed that "It isn’t 907 which prevents assistance to Azerbaijan. It’s Azerbaijan’s insistence of the blockade that prevents the assistance. They have it within their power to end it tomorrow."

Rep. Porter was joined in speaking against the measure by Republicans Frank Wolf of Virginia and Joe Knollenberg of Michigan–who disagreed sharply with the State Department’s opposition to Section 907. Rep. Knollenberg–quoting from an anti-907 letter sent to the panel by Secretary of State Madeleine Albright–stressed his differences with the State Department–which he described as being "wrong" on this issue. Other Republicans voting against the Livingston Amendment were representatives Rodney Frelinghuysen of New Jersey and James Walsh of New York.

"As Armenian American Republicans we have long been troubled by the State Department’s anti-Armenian bias and–more generally–its failure over the past six years to provide even a minimum level of American leadership abroad," said NORA Executive Director Ara Bedrosian. "At the same time–we are sadly disappointed that Robert Livingston and several other Republicans on the Appropriations Committee–apparently under pressure from the oil industry and from foreign governmen’s–chose to compromise the Republican Party’s traditional ideals of fairness and freedom."

"Livingston’s amendment goes against everything our Party stands for–by supporting the tyrannical Azerbaijani government’s efforts to strengthen its illegal blockades of Armenia and Karabakh. It supports Aliyev’s merciless dictatorship which has denied food–fuel–and medicine to Armenia’s–even as his government has denied basic civil and human rights to its own citizens. Perhaps most disturbing of all is that this amendment places the American people and their tax dollars in the position of endorsing the presidential candidacy of Haydar Aliyev–a corrupt former KGB general and Soviet Politburo member.

NORA urged Armenian American Republicans to remain true to the Republican Party’s enduring principles–to defend Section 907 by contacting their members of Congress–and to continue fighting efforts by the oil industry and foreign governmen’s to buy our nation’s foreign policy.

NORA works to expand the Republican Party’s outreach into the Armenian American community and to encourage Armenia’s–at the local–state–and national levels–to become involved in shaping and advancing the Republican agenda. Armenian American Republicans interested in learning more about the National Organization of Republican Armenia’s or participating in its activities are encouraged to call (202) 232-5151–or write to 1745 Pennsylvania Ave.–NW–Suite 126–Washington–DC 20006. Contact NORA via the internet–at nora_dc@earthlink.net.

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