Over 50 House Members Call for $90 Million Aid Package for Armenia

ANCA Chairman Ken Hachikian to testify before key House Foreign Aid Panel.

WASHINGTON–A bipartisan group of more than 50 legislators have joined Congressional Armenian Caucus Co-Chair Frank Pallone (D-NJ) and Rep. Connie Morella (R-Md.) in co-signing a letter calling for "at least $90 million" in US assistanceto Armenia–continued military aid for Armenia–as well as additional funds for projects in Nagorno Karabakh–reported the Armenian National Committee of America.

The letter–addressed to House Foreign Operations Subcommittee Chairman Jim Kolbe (R-Ariz.)–was circulated as the Subcommittee prepares to hold its annual hearing on May 9th on foreign aid priorities for fiscal year 2003. Members of Congress will continue to have an opportunity to sign on to the letter until May 8.

"We would like to thank Representatives Pallone and Morella for taking a leadership role in calling for $90 million in US assistance to Armenia and continued aid for the people of Nagorno Karabakh," said ANCA Executive Director Aram Hamparian. "We thank our friends on this important panel – especially Armenian Caucus Co-Chairman Joe Knollenberg and Representatives Nancy Pelosi–Steve Rothman–Nita Lowey and John Sununu – for helping their colleagues understand the pivotal role the United States plays in helping Armenia and Nagorno Karabakh overcome the devastating impact of the dual Turkish and Azerbaijani blockades."

The Congressional letter notes the devastating effects of the blockades and the continued need for US assistance–noting that "as long as Armenia’suffers from blockades on its east and west borders–continued and robust US assistance to Armenia is necessary to help minimize their impact. Therefore–we believe that–at a minimum–Armenia’should receive the same level of funding in FY 2003 as it did in FY 2002 – not less than $90 million." The letter also addresses the concern of its signatories regarding the delay in the distribution of the $20 million allocated by Congress in 1998 for Nagorno Karabakh. The co-signers urge the Administration to disburse these funds in a timely manner and recommend that the Congress allocate additional FY 2003 resources for the Nagorno Karabakh aid program.

Referring to the waiver of Section 907 restrictions on US aid to Azerbaijan–the Congressional co-signers contend that–"while such flexibility was granted–we urge this Subcommittee to carefully review all such assistance to Azerbaijan as a result of the waiver to ensure that any such assistance is not used against the people of Armenia or Nagorno Karabakh." The letter also urges Congressional support for efforts to promote a peaceful resolution of the Nagorno Karabakh conflict.

The fifty-four Representatives who have co-signed the letter to date are: Gary L. Ackerman (D-NY)–Robert E. Andrews (D-NJ)–Joe Baca (D-CA)–Thomas M. Barrett (D-WI)–Howard L. Berman (D-CA)–Rod R. Blagojevich (D-IL)–David E. Bonior (D-MI)–Michael E. Capuano (D-MA)–Jerry F. Costello (D-IL)–Joseph Crowley (D-NY)–Calvin M. Dooley (D-CA)–David Dreier (R-CA)–Phil English (R-PA)–Anna G. Eshoo (D-CA)–Bob Filner (D-CA)–Barney Frank (D-MA)–Maurice D. Hinchey (D-NY)–Rush D. Holt (D-NJ)–Michael M. Honda (D-CA)–Stephen Horn (R-CA)–Sue W. Kelly (R-NY)–Dale E. Kildee (D-MI)–Mark Steven Kirk (R-IL)–Gerald D. Kleczka (D-WI)–James R. Langevin (D-RI)–Steven C. LaTourette (R-OH)–Sander M. Levin (D-MI)–Frank A. LoBiondo (R-NJ)–Stephen F. Lynch (D-MA)–Carolyn B. Maloney (D-NY)–Edward J. Markey (D-MA)–Carolyn McCarthy (D-NY)–James P. McGovern (D-MA)–Michael R. McNulty (D-NY)–Constance A. Morella (R-MD)–Grace F. Napolitano (D-CA)–Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC)–George Radanovich (R-CA)–Lynn N. Rivers (D-MI)–Marge Roukema (R-NJ)–Jim Saxton (R-NJ)–Adam B. Schiff (D-CA)–Christopher Shays (R-CT)–Brad Sherman (D-CA)–Christopher H. Smith (R-NJ)–Hilda L. Solis (D-CA)–Mark E. Souder (R-IN)–Ellen O. Tauscher (D-CA)–John F. Tierney (D-MA)–Edolphus Towns (D-NY)–Diane E. Watson (D-CA)–Henry A. Waxman (D-CA)–Anthony D. Weiner (D-NY)–Joe Wilson (R-SC).

ANCA Chairman Ken Hachikian was scheduled to testify before the House Foreign Operations Subcommittee Wednesday. In his remarks–he will outline the views of Armenian Americans on US aid policy on Armenia and the Caucasus region. Also testifying on Armenian issues will be several members of Congress–including Armenian Caucus Co-Chairman Frank Pallone (D-NJ)–Adam Schiff (D-CA)–Mark Kirk (R-IL)–Peter Visclosky (D-IN)–as well as the Armenian Assembly.

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