Senate Aid Panel Votes Sharp Cut in Aid to Armenia

Proposes $5 Million for Nagorno Karabakh; Allocates Equal Amounts of Foreign Military Financing to Armenia and Azerbaijan

WASHINGTON–In a departure from its traditional support for a robust US assistance package for Armenia–the Senate Appropriations Committee Thursday voted to dramatically reduce aid to Armenia–reported the Armenian National Committee of America.

Early reports from Capitol Hill indicate that the Senate Appropriations Committee has approved a $50 million economic aid package for Armenia as part of its fiscal year 2007 aid bill. This allocation was broken down into $34.2 million for Freedom Support Act aid–$9.96 million for the Democracy Fund and $5.8 million for the Child Survival Health Programs Fund. An additional $1.8 million was allocated for Peace Corps programs in Armenia. The panel’s proposal is $25 million less than the actual allocations for Armenia over the past several years.

In a positive development–the Senate panel approved $5 million for humanitarian and relief assistance for Nagorno Karabakh–a $2 million increase over the fiscal year 2006 allocation of $3 million. The panel also voted to recommend equal amounts of US Foreign Military Financing (FMF) to Armenia and Azerbaijan–with each appropriated $3.5 million. The panel did not clarify–however–whether they intended this parity to extend to the International Military Education and Training (IMET) and Nonproliferation–Antiterrorism–Demining and Related Programs (NDAR) funds.

"We are troubled by the retreat of Senate appropriators from their long-standing commitment to the US aid program for Armenia and Nagorno Karabakh – all the more so given Armenia’s impressive domestic progress–robust and expanding bilateral relations with the United States–peacekeeping support in Iraq and Kosovo–cooperation in settling the Nagorno Karabakh conflict–and on other pressing regional and security concerns," said ANCA Executive Director Aram Hamparian. "We look forward to working with appropriators in both houses of Congress to restore aid to at least last year’s level."

The Senate Appropriations Committee’s decision stands in contrast to the House vote earlier this month–which allocated $62 million in US economic aid for Armenia. Over the course of the past decade–the Senate has consistently proposed higher levels of aid for Armenia than the House.

The full Senate is expected to vote on the fiscal year 2007 foreign aid bill following its return from the July 4th Congressional recess–after which House and Senate appropriators will hold a conference to work out differences between their two bills.

In March of this year–the Millennium Challenge Corporation – a newly established–performance-based foreign aid program – approved a five-year–$235 million assistance package to build roads and irrigation systems in Armenia’s rural regions.

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