White House Proposes 49% Reduction in Economic Aid to Armenia; Breaks Parity in Armenia-Azerbaijan Military Assistance

WASHINGTON–The Bush Administration, in its FY2008 federal budget, has proposed a 49 percent cut in aid to Armenia, and is–once again–seeking to break the agreement it struck with Congress more than five years ago to maintain parity in military aid levels to Armenia and Azerbaijan, reported the Armenian National Committee of America. The President’s budget recommen’s cutting US economic aid to Armenia from the FY2006 actual level of $69 million to a proposed FY2008 level of $35 million. The budget proposal does not include any specific assistance figures for Nagorno Karabakh. The proposed military aid cuts come in two broad categories, Foreign Military Financing (FMF) and International Military Education and Training (IMET). The proposed FY2008 FMF figure for Armenia is $3 million, a cut of $960,000, fully 30 percent less than the proposed FY2008 figure for Azerbaijan of $4.3 million. The President is seeking only $300,000 in IMET for Armenia, down $538,000 from FY2006, a dramatic cut of 64 percent. In sharp contrast, the White House is proposing that Azerbaijan receive $1 million in IMET, a considerable increase over their FY2006 level of $823,000 and more than three times the IMET levels being proposed for Armenia. Overall, the President’s budget proposes 38 percent less in US military aid for Armenia than for Azerbaijan. "We are troubled, once again, both by the President’s breach of his agreement with Congress to maintain parity in military aid appropriations to Armenia and Azerbaijan, as well as by the drastic cut that he is proposing in economic development assistance to Armenia," said ANCA Executive Director Aram Hamparian. "We look to our friends in Congress to help restore military aid parity and to substantially increase aid levels to Armenia and Nagorno Karabakh that reflect Armenia’s growing partnership with the United States, as well as the shared values and enduring friendship between the American and Armenian peoples." The Foreign Operations Subcommittees of the Senate and House Appropriation Committees will now review the budget and each draft their own versions of the FY 2007 foreign assistance bill. The agreement to maintain parity in US military aid to Armenia and Azerbaijan was struck between the White House and Congress in 2001, in the wake of Congressional action granting the President the authority to waive the Section 907 restrictions on aid to Azerbaijan. The ANCA has vigorously defended this principle, stressing that a tilt in military spending toward Azerbaijan would destabilize the region, emboldening the Azerbaijani leadership to continue their threats to impose a military solution to the Nagorno Karabakh conflict. More broadly, the ANCA has underscored that breaching the parity agreement would reward the leadership of Azerbaijan for obstructing the peace process, and undermines the role of the US as an impartial mediator of the Nagorno Karabakh conflict.

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