Senate Reverses Administration Effort to Break Military Parity Agreement

Joins House in Restoring Parity in Military Aid Allocations to Armenia and Azerbaijan

WASHINGTON–DC (ANCA)–Armenian Americans welcomed the adoption by the Senate–last Friday evening–of a $19.6 billion fiscal year 2005 foreign aid bill that earmarks at least $75 million in economic aid for Armenia–provides another $8.75 million in military aid–a $2.5 million appropriation for Mountainous Karabagh–and reverses the Administration’s efforts to tip the balance of US military aid toward Azerbaijan.

"We appreciate the leadership of Senator McConnell and the support of all of our friends on the Foreign Operations Subcommittee in constructively addressing the many provisions of the foreign aid bill that hold special meaning for the Armenian American community," said ANCA Executive Director Aram Hamparian. "In particular–we welcome the Senate’s reversal of the ill-advised effort to break the military aid parity agreement–as well as its decision to increase the aid level for Armenia beyond the figure in both the Administration’s and the House’s version of the bill. At the same time–we regret that the Senate–in failing to include language similar to the Schiff Amendment–missed an opportunity to send a clear message to Turkey that the US government will not tolerate its shameful denial of the Armenian Genocide."

The restoration of military aid parity by the Senate follows similar action taken by the House earlier this year. In February of 2005–the Administration’s budget proposal recommended breaking the agreement struck between the White House and Congress in late 2001 during discussions over Section 907–to keep military aid to Armenia and Azerbaijan at equal levels. The White House proposal would have allocated roughly four times more Foreign Military Financing (FMF) assistance to Azerbaijan ($8 million) than Armenia ($2 million). The House version of the foreign aid bill set the FMF figures at $5 million for each country. The Senate bill adopted last night sets the FMF level for both countries at $8 million–with an additional $750,000 to each country for International Military Education and Training (IMET).

The Senate version of the foreign aid bill did not include Schiff Amendment language. This provision–adopted unanimously by voice vote in the US House this July–restricts the government of Turkey from using any of the aid it receives from this appropriation to lobby against the adoption of the Congressional Genocide Resolution.

The FY 2005 Foreign Operations bill–which was adopted by voice vote–was $210 million above the House version–and $1.7 billion below the Administration request. The bill includes $150 million in emergency funds for Global HIV AIDS and $75 million in emergency funds for peacekeeping in Sudan. The $75 million hard earmark for Armenia is $10 million more than the figure approved by the House and $13 million over the Administration’s $62 million budget request. By contrast–foreign aid levels to neighboring Caucus countries include $38 million to Azerbaijan and $100 million for Georgia.

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