Armenian Americans Urge Senators to Restore Aid to Armenia to $90 Million

ANCA Organizes National Campaign to Ask U.S. Senate to Reverse 8% Cut in Assistance WASHINGTON–DC–The Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA) is mobilizing Armenian Americans from across the United States to urge a key Senate panel to reverse an eight percent cut in aid to Armenia recently approved by a House subcommittee in its version of the fiscal year 2002 foreign aid bill.

The Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Foreign Operations is set to meet as early as the third week of July to consider its version of the fiscal year 2002 foreign aid bill. On June 27th–the U.S. House Foreign Operations Subcommittee–in its version of the foreign aid bill–had reduced U.S. aid to Armenia by eight percent–from $90 million to $82.5 million. The House Appropriations Committee approved the measure–including the reduction in assistance levels to Armenia–earlier today. The Senate panel can help reverse this cut by including an "earmark" for at least $90 million for Armenia in its version of the legislation. The final aid level will ultimately be determined by a joint Senate-House conference committee that will meet at the end of the appropriations process to reconcile the House and Senate versions of the foreign aid bill. The ANCA mobilization is focused on the sixteen states represented by Senators on the Foreign Operations Subcommittee.

The sixteen senators on the subcommittee include: Richard Shelby (R)–Alabama; Appropriations Ranking Member Ted Stevens (R)–Alaska; Ben Nighthorse Campbell (R)–Colorado; Daniel Inouye (D)–Hawaii; Richard Durbin (D)–Illinois; Tom Harkin (D)–Iowa; Subcommittee Ranking Member Mitch McConnell (R)–Kentucky; Mary Landrieu (D)–Louisiana; Barbara Mikulski (D)–Maryland; Christopher Bond (R)–Missouri; Judd Gregg (R)–New Hampshire; Arlen Specter (R)–Pennsylvania; Tim Johnson (D)–South Dakota; Robert Bennett (R)–Utah; Subcommittee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D)–Vermont; Appropriations Chairman Robert Byrd (D)–West Virginia.

Local ANCA chapters–activists–and supporters in these states are educating their Senators about the importance of further strengthening the U.S.-Armenia relationship by sustaining aid levels to Armenia at least at the fiscal year 2001 level of $90 million. They are also stressing the need for continued assistance to Nagorno Karabakh and the critical role that Section 907 of the Freedom Support Act plays in helping to bring an end to Azerbaijan’s illegal blockades of Armenia and Nagorno Karabakh. Armenian Americans from outside of these sixteen states are urging their Senators to express their support for these issues to the Chairman of the Senate Foreign Operations Subcommittee–Patrick Leahy (D-VT)–and to the panel’s ranking Republican–Mitch McConnell (R-KY)–a long-time champion for Armenian provisions in the foreign aid bill. The ANCA website offers activists from around the nation the opportunity to send free WebFaxes to their Senators in support of the Armenian American priorities in the foreign aid bill.

The ANCA has stressed to both Senate and House Subcommittee members that restoring U.S. aid levels to Armenia to at least the fiscal year 2001 level will strengthen U.S. ties with Armenia and reinforce the enduring bonds between the American and Armenian peoples. In calling for the Senate to earmark at least $90 million for Armenia–the ANCA has highlighted the fact that that Armenia has emerged as a leading partner of the United States on a broad range of issues–despite having had to overcome the devastating 1988 earthquake–the collapse of its traditional economy–rapid market reforms–regional instability–and the devastating impact of the ongoing blockades by Azerbaijan and Turkey. Among the specific areas in which U.S. assistance to Armenia has been particularly helpful to the U.S.-Armenia partnership are the following: Cooperation on Economic Issues: American aid to Armenia has substantially helped Armenia’s economic development. Armenia’s GDP has grown steadily–inflation has been drastically lowered–the exchange rate is stable–and the deficit has been brought under control. Foreign direct investment rose 29% last year–and real GDP growth of at least 6%–with 3% inflation–is expected through 2003. Last month Armenia hosted an investors conference in New York City with the U.S. Government–the World Bank and International Finance Corporation–and just two weeks ago helped to foster increased U.S.-Armenia trade at a successful trade show–attended by over 5,000–in Los Angeles. Cooperation on Regional Issues: On regional issues–Armenia has been a consistently reliable partner in the search for peace and regional cooperation in the Caucasus–extending its full cooperation to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe’s peace process for Nagorno Karabagh. Armenia’s support for the peace process contrasts sharply with the position taken by Azerbaijan–which–according to the statemen’s of its own leaders–bears responsibility for the failure of the most recent round of negotiations. Cooperation on Security Issues: Armenia is cooperating with the Departmen’s of State–Defense–and Energy on a number of projects concerning counter-proliferation–cooperative threat reduction–export control and border security assistance. Armenia is an active member of the NATO Partnership for Peace–and participates extensively in the International Science and Technology Center–the U.S. Civilian Research and Development Foundation–and other institutions involved in anti- terrorism–de-mining–and other security issues. Cooperation on Energy–Agricultural and Environmental Issues: Armenia is cooperating extensively with the United States on energy sector reforms–nuclear reactor safety programs–and on regional environmental projects to protect the natural resources of the entire Caucasus region. At the request of Armenian officials–the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has provided environmental impact training in Armenia. Agricultural programs–notably those organized by the Fresno-California based Armenian Technology Group (ATG)–have created much-needed jobs–while promoting private sector agribusiness and increased trade.

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