House Members Urge to Keep $90 Million Armenia Earmark

LETTER–INITIATED BY REP. PALLONE–ADVOCATES PRO-ARMENIAN PROVISIONS IN FY2003 FOREIGN AID BILL

WASHINGTON–DC–Congressional Armenian Caucus Co-Chair Frank Pallone (D-NJ) was joined today by over 20 House members in urging the House Foreign Operations conferees to maintain a $90 million earmark for Armenia–and additional humanitarian assistance for Nagorno Karabagh in the fiscal year 2003 Omnibus Appropriations bill–reported the Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA.)

In a January 28 letter sent to Rep. Jim Kolbe (R-AZ)–Chairman of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Foreign Operations–the House members encouraged support for a number of provisions in the bill impacting Armenia and Nagorno Karabagh.

Noting that "the dual blockades of Armenia by Azerbaijan and Turkey continue to impede Armenia’s economic well-being," the co-signers urged their colleagues to ensure that "not less than $90 million" be provided for Armenia. The letter also urged $3 million in Foreign Military Financing and $750,000 in International Military Education Training (IMET) for Armenia.

Regarding US assistance to Nagorno Karabagh–the cosigners pointed out that "despite clear Congressional intent" the $20 million aid package approved for fiscal year 1998 has yet to be completely disbursed. The letter urges that the "remaining funds be appropriately obligated so that the aid reaches its intended recipients–the residents of Nagorno Karabagh."

Further–the House members urge that an additional $5 million be allocated for Nagorno Karabagh for the coming year. Finally–the cosigners noted the importance of including confidence-building measures to assist the leaders of Armenia–Azerbaijan and Nagorno Karabagh in finding a lasting and peaceful solution to the Karabagh conflict.

"We want to thank Congressman Pallone and each of his colleagues who joined with him in urging the Foreign Operations conferees to support pro-Armenian provisions in the fiscal year 2003 foreign aid bill," said Aram Hamparian–Executive Director of the ANCA. "In the coming days and weeks–we will continue to support final approval by the conference committee of the $90 million appropriation for Armenia approved earlier by the Senate. As the authors of this Congressional letter noted–this allocation will help to offset the impact on Armenia of the Turkish and Azerbaijani blockades–estimated by the World Bank to be as much as $720 million a year."

The twenty two House members joining Rep. Pallone in cosigning the letter to Chairman Kolbe were: Representatives Robert Andrews (D-NJ)–Howard Berman (D-CA)–Michael Capuano (D-MA)–Jerry Costello (D-IL)–Joseph Crowley (D-NY)–Lloyd Doggett (D-TX)–Anna Eshoo (D-CA)–Bob Filner (D-CA)–Barney Frank (D-MA)–Joseph Hoeffel (D-PA)–Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC)–James Langevin (D-RI)–Sander Levin (D-MI)–Edward Markey (D-MA)–James McGovern (D-MA)–Michael McNulty (D-NY)–George Radanovich (R-CA)–Mark Souder (R-IN)–Adam Schiff (D-CA)–Ellen Tauscher (D-CA)–John Sweeney (R-NY)–and Henry Waxman (D-CA).

The House and Senate Appropriations Subcommittees on Foreign Operations–considered and approved the FY 2003 foreign aid legislation last year. However–with elections looming–both the House and Senate postponed final adoption of the legislation–instead combining a series of spending bills into one Omnibus Appropriations bill–currently under consideration by House and Senate Conferees. As in years past–Congressman Joe Knollenberg–who co-chairs the Armenian Caucus and serves as a senior member of the House Foreign Operations subcommittee–will play a leading role–within the conference process–in advancing issues of concern to Armenian Americans.

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