Sen. Allen Calls for “Strict Parity” in US Military Aid to Armenia And Azerbaijan

WASHINGTON–DC–Senator George Allen (R-VA)–chairman of the Senate panel holding a confirmation hearing for the next US Ambassador to Armenia–stressed on Wednesday that in order "to ensure that the United States remains an honest peace broker. . . it is essential that we maintain strict parity with regard to foreign military financing or FMF funding" to Armenia and Azerbaijan–reported the Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA).

The statement comes in response to President Bush’s Fiscal Year 2005 budget proposal that would break the agreement to maintain military aid parity between Armenia and Azerbaijan. The budget–released on February 2–proposes $2 million in Foreign Military Financing for Armenia and $8 million for Azerbaijan–contradicting the 2001 agreement between the White House and Congress to maintain parity in US military aid levels to Armenia and Azerbaijan.

This understanding–shared with representatives of the Armenian American community during a February 21–2002 meeting with National Security Council officials–resulted in equal levels of military aid appropriations to these two nations in Fiscal Years 2002–2003–and 2004–and contributed to maintaining stability in the Caucasus.

Since the release of the President’s budget–the Armenian American community has participated in the ANCA WebFax–letter writing–and phone campaigns–urging the House and Senate Appropriations panels to ensure continued military aid parity to Armenia and Azerbaijan. In a recent memo to key Senate and House members–ANCA Government Affairs Director Abraham Niziblian argued that–"a tilt in military spending toward Azerbaijan would destabilize the region–emboldening the new Azerbaijani leadership to continue their threats to impose a military solution of the Karabagh conflict. More broadly–breaching the parity agreement would reward the leadership of Azerbaijan for walking away from the OSCE Key West peace talks in 2001–the most promising opportunity to resolve the Karabagh conflict in nearly a decade."

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