White House Asks for Sharp Reduction in Aid to Armenia

ANCA looks to Congress to help offset cut in aid to Armenia WASHINGTON–DC–The Bush Administration’s fiscal year 2004 budget–released earlier today–calls for $49.5 million in assistance to Armenia–a significant drop from last year’s Presidential request of $70 million and the actual fiscal year 2002 appropriation of $90.2 million–reported the Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA).

Comparatively–the Administration request for Azerbaijan saw a much smaller reduction–going from a $46 million request in FY 2003 to $41.5 million for FY 2004. The President’s fiscal year 2004 budget calls for an overall decrease in military assistance to Armenia and Azerbaijan as compared to its fiscal year 2003 request–while keeping parity in spending for both countries.

"Armenian Americans are troubled by the sharp reductions in aid to Armenia proposed by the President and will–working with our community’s friends in Congress–seek to restore US assistance to a level commensurate with Armenia’s cooperation with the United States on a broad range of security–economic–and regional issues," said Aram Hamparian–Executive Director of the ANCA.

"This Administration–like the last–has failed to meaningfully pressure either Turkey or Azerbaijan to lift their illegal blockades of Armenia and–as such–bears a special responsibility to help offset the impact of the these blockades–estimated by the World Bank at up to $720 million a year. The figures proposed today by the White House–sadly–represent a step in the wrong direction."

According to the World Bank–the blockades of Armenia are costing Armenia between 30 to 38% of its Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and blocking up to 50% of Armenia’s potential exports. According to these figures and using the World Bank figure for Armenia’s 2000 GDP of $1.9 billion–the Turkish and Azerbaijani blockades costs Armenia between $570 million to $722 million annually. (Source: Trade–Transport and Telecommunications in the South Caucasus: Current Obstacles To Regional Cooperation – World Bank 2001)

In human terms–these blockades have caused economic hardships that have caused over 800,000 Armenia’s to leave their homeland out of desperation. Despite strong Congressional opposition to these illegal blockades–the Administration has not taken any meaningful steps to bring them to an end.

Congress has yet to approve the FY 2003 foreign aid package–now part of an Omnibus Appropriations bill that will likely be taken up in the next few weeks.

The Senate Foreign Operations Subcommittee has proposed a $90 million earmark for Armenia–while the House has called for $84.3 million in assistance. Over twenty House Members recently urged their colleagues on the Foreign Operations conference committee to approve the Senate level of $90 million for Armenia.

The Administration’s proposed FY 2004 Freedom Support Act budget calls for $49.5 million for Armenia–$41.5 million for Azerbaijan and $75 million for Georgia.

In terms of Foreign Military Finance (FMF) and International Military Education and Training (IMET)–the President’s proposal calls for $3.4 million for Armenia and Azerbaijan and $11.3 million for Georgia. Tables providing past allotmen’s to the Caucasus countries are provided below.

US Assistance

FY 2002 Actual FY 2003 Request FY 2004 Request

Armenia $90.20 million $70 million $49.5 million

Azerbaijan $43.51 million $46 million $41.5 million

Georgia $89.807 million $87 million $75 million

Foreign Military Finance (FMF)

FY 2002 Actual FY 2003 Request FY 2004 Request

Armenia $4,000,000 $3,000,000 $2,500,000

Azerbaijan $4,000,000 $3,000,000 $2,500,000

Georgia $31,000,000 $7,000,000 $10,000,000

International Military Education and Training (IMET)

FY 2002 Actual FY 2003 Request FY 2004 Request

Armenia $75,000 $750,000 $900,000

Azerbaijan $377,000 $750,000 $900,000

Georgia $889,000 $1,200,000 $1,300,000

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