Congressional Caucus on Armenian Issues Co-Chairman Pledges to Continue Working to Advance Initiatives of Special Concern to Armenian Americans
DEARBORN–MI – The Armenian National Committee (ANC) of Michigan recently met with Congressional Caucus on Armenian Issues Co-Chairman–Representative Joe Knollenberg (R-MI) to discuss issues of concern to the large Armenian American community in Michigan.
During the gathering–Rep. Knollenberg had an opportunity to brief ANC of Michigan activists on Armenia’s economic status. He was optimistic that Armenia would overcome the hardships caused by the continued blockade of its borders by Turkey and Azerbaijan. The Congressman also remained hopeful that an economic study on the blockade–which should be ready by next March–would prove that the Turkish economy is suffering the most from the closed borders between the two countries–adding that "we don’t have to wait for the study’s report to come out in March to know that the negative impact the blockade is taking on the region is crippling Turkey."
On the subject of Armenia’s membership in the World Trade Organization (WTO)–Rep. Knollenberg maintained that Armenia does in fact deserve full ascension to the WTO–despite objections by the United States State Department. In addition–the Congressman’spoke about the increase in US assistance to Armenia throughout the past 10 years.
ANC activists had an opportunity to ask the Congressman’several questions–including why he accepted the lead role of the Armenian Issues Caucus–which currently enjoys its highest membership. Knollenberg stated–"Here we have a people who have a history of pain and suffering–an earthquake that took the lives of thousands–the war with Azerbaijan–and Turkey’s border blockade. Yet democracy is winning the battle. And that is why the Armenian Caucus is the largest in Congress."
"We deeply appreciate Representative Knollenberg taking this opportunity to talk with the ANC about some of the issues that are near and dear to all of us," stated ANC of Michigan Co-Chairman Ralph Kourtjian. "Rep. Knollenberg is a true champion of so many of the important issues of concern to the Armenian American community. This gathering was an opportunity for us to thank the Congressman for his leadership and for all of his tireless work," concluded Kourtjian.
Rep. Knollenberg has consistently led a number of Congressional initiatives of particular concern to Armenian Americans. In the 107th Congress alone–Rep. Knollenberg twice called on President Bush to properly recognize the Armenian Genocide and spoke out against Turkey’s policy of denial. In his powerful role on the House Appropriations Committee–he led efforts to increase US aid to Armenia. Rep. Knollenberg continuously advocated to maintain the ban on US aid to Azerbaijan until Azerbaijan lifts its blockade of Armenia. In 2001 and 2002 he co-hosted the ANCA’s Annual Capitol Hill Observance of the Armenian Genocide.