White House Cuts Aid to Armenia; Ups Azeri Portion

*ANCA challenges administration proposal during White House briefing.

WASHINGTON–Speaking Thursday during a White House briefing on the foreign affairs component of President Clinton’s fiscal year 2001 budget–ANCA Executive Director Aram Hamparian sharply criticized the Administration’s proposed 27 percent cut in aid to Armenia and called on the Administration to end its foot-dragging in implementing Congressionally mandated direct US assistance to Nagorno Karabakh.

The briefing–presented by Bob Kyle–Associate Director of the OMB’s National Security and International Affairs Department–was attended by leading ethnic community leaders from around the United States.

Assisting Kyle in outlining the Administration’s views were his colleagues from OMB and officials from the Department of State.

The Administration’s proposed budget figures would decrease US aid to Armenia to $75 million–down from over $102 million in fiscal year 2000. At the same time–the White House proposes increasing aid to Azerbaijan by more than 77 percent–from $30 million in fiscal year 2000 to $54 million in fiscal year 2001.

Section 907 of the Freedom Support Act–which restricts US aid to the government of Azerbaijan–allows for certain types of democracy–human rights–trade development and humanitarian assistance.

"The Administration’s misplaced foreign aid priorities–if allowed to stand–would mark a retreat from America’s traditional commitment to Armenia’s security–prosperity–and democratic development," said Hamparian.

"The White House sends exactly the wrong message by proposing a 27% reduction in aid to Armenia–which has led the region in democratic development and market reform–while seeking to increase aid to Azerbaijan’s corrupt government by 77 percent–essentially rewarding that regime for blockading its neighbors and obstructing the Karabakh peace process."

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