WASHINGTON—The Obama-Biden Administration budget released on Wednesday includes a 38% cut in Fiscal Year 2014 (FY14) economic aid to Armenia, a proposal that, if approved by Congress, would reduce U.S. assistance to Armenia to its lowest level since the 1988 earthquake, reported the Armenian National Committee of America.
The President’s proposal of $24,719,000 in Economic Support Funds for Armenia was dramatically less than last year’s actual economic aid allocation of $40 million, and less than half the $50 million in FY14 aid requested earlier this year in an Armenian Caucus letter and ANCA Congressional testimony. The White House’s proposal did, however, maintain parity in terms of appropriated military aid to Armenia and Azerbaijan, with International Military Education and Training (IMET) assistance set at $600,000 and Foreign Military Financing (FMF) set at $2,700,000.
Combining all the FY14 appropriated assistance to Armenia that the President is proposing, including economic, military, law enforcement, and health, his current request represents a 14% reduction of his last request of Congress, as part of his FY13 budget.
“President Obama, who came into office pledging to maintain aid to Armenia and increase bilateral trade and investment, has consistently cut Armenian assistance programs, while failing to take any meaningful steps to promote the growth of economic relations through investment treaties, tax accords, trade missions, or other commonly utilized policies and practices,” said ANCA Executive Director Aram Hamparian.
The Administration’s budget does not include any figures for aid to Nagorno Karabakh, although, over the past several years USAID has allocated $2,000,000 annually for this purpose. This level of Nagorno Karabakh funding is considerably less than the intent expressed by Congress over the course of many years – including the minimum level of $5 million approved in the House Appropriations Committee’s version of the FY13 foreign aid bill.