Arizona Armenia’s Meet with Congressman Kolbe

CONGRESSMAN CHAIR OF POWERFUL FOREIGN AID SUBCOMMITTEE IN US HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

TUCSON–Two distinguished representatives of Arizona’s growing Armenian-American community recently met with Congressman Jim Kolbe (R-AZ) at his campaign offices in Tucson. The group discussed the amount of US foreign aid Armenia and Nagorno-Karabagh will receive in Fiscal Year 2003. They also addressed the need to ensure that US foreign aid dollars committed to Armenia are efficiently spent.

Congressman Kolbe serves as the Chairman of the powerful House Appropriations Subcommittee on Foreign Operations–Export Financing and Related Programs. This subcommittee funds most US foreign aid programs–including funding to the Agency for International Development (AID) and the Peace Corps.

Community leaders who met with Kolbe were Rich Melikian–whose family has built an outstanding reputation throughout the State of Arizona for their philanthropy both within and outside of the Armenian community–and Vahe Nazikian–the Chairman of the Arizona ANC chapter. Joining them was Raffi Hamparian–a Board member of the Armenian National Committee of America-Western Region.

"We were pleased to speak to Congressman Kolbe about foreign aid issues relating to Armenia and Nagorno-Karabagh–said Hamparian after the meeting. "The Congressman’shares our commitment to ensure that US aid sent to Armenia benefits those who need it most."

Rich Melikian presented Congressman Kolbe with a copy of Samantha Power’s book–’America and the Age of Genocide,’ which chronicles the denial of the Armenian Genocide.

ANC representative Vahe Nazikian gave the Congressman a copy of the book ‘Out of Stone,’ containing hundreds of photos depicting the natural beauty of the people and land of Armenia and Nagorno-Karabagh.

Earlier this year–Congressman Kolbe’s Subcommittee approved a hard earmark of $84.3 million for Armenia in its fiscal year 2003 foreign aid bill. The amount is $6.7 million less than the figure appropriated in the Senate version of the bill–but $14.3 million more than the amount proposed earlier this year by President Bush.

The final House and Senate versions of the foreign aid bill will be reconciled by a joint House and Senate conference committee later this year.

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