Senate Panel Approves $90 Million for Armenia Keeps Sec. 907

WASHINGTON–A key Senate foreign aid panel approved a $90 million aid package to Armenia for fiscal year 2000 and–despite heavy opposition from the Caspian oil lobby–maintained Section 907 of the Freedom Support Act–reported the Armenian National Committee of America.

The Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Foreign Operations–which met today to mark-up the foreign aid bill–"provided $90 million for Armenia and urge[d] the government to continue to accelerate economic reforms." The panel set the overall figure for aid to the Newly Independent States at $780 million.

The Committee–under the leadership of Subcommittee Chairman Mitch McConnell–"included a provision which restates Section 907 of the Freedom Support Act," including a number of existing exemptions which have been crafted over recent years to allow for certain types of democracy–humanitarian–and investment assistance. Section 907–adopted by Congress in 1992–mandates that certain US aid to Azerbaijan be channeled through non-governmental organizations until the Azerbaijani government lifts its illegal blockades of Armenian and Nagorno Karabakh. The Subcommittee’s bill will now be considered by the full Appropriations Committee.

"We very much appreciate the leadership of Senator McConnell and the support of the Foreign Operations Committee for maintaining Section 907," said ANCA Executive Director Aram Hamparian. "We share the view held by the panel that the American taxpayer should not be asked to subsidize an Azerbaijani government that blockades its neighbors–violates human rights–tolerates widespread corruption–and has repeatedly rejected international efforts to bring the Nagorno Karabakh conflict to a negotiated resolution."

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