WASHINGTON—As the Congress continues deliberations over appropriations for the remaining months of Fiscal Year 2011, President Barack Obama today announced his proposed Fiscal Year 2012 budget numbers, which included a call for $40 million in aid to Armenia and a pro-Baku tilt in U.S. military aid to Armenia and Azerbaijan, reported the Armenian National Committee of America.
“Armenian Americans, keenly aware of the ongoing economic hardships caused by Turkey and Azerbaijan’s blockades, are troubled that President Obama, although he kept his aid request for Armenia consistent with the proposal he submitted last year, is, in actual dollars, seeking a cut in aid compared to the amount approved last year by Congress,” said Aram Hamparian. “We are also very concerned that the President’s bid to tip the military aid balance in Baku, in the face of growing threats by Azerbaijani leaders to start a new war, will undermine the Nagorno Karabakh peace process.”
“More broadly, in light of the increasing budget pressures on foreign aid spending, we are especially disappointed by the President’s failure, despite his pledge to expand U.S.-Armenia trade, to take any meaningful steps to expand U.S.-Armenian commercial relations, through a U.S.-Armenia Trade and Investment Framework Agreement, a Double Tax Treaty, or a Free Trade Agreement,” added Hamparian. “These accords are keys to fostering job creation both here and in Armenia.”
While President Obama’s FY 2012 economic assistance request of $40 million for Armenia is the same as his previous request in FY 2011, he cut all Global Health and Child Survival assistance to Armenia, which had been traditionally set at $400,000. Azerbaijan’s economic assistance request took a sharper hit – cut 25% from $22.12 million to $16.6 million, with their Global Health and Child Survival assistance also reduced to zero. In terms of military assistance, the President asked for $3.45 million in combined Foreign Military Finance Assistance and International Military Education and Training (IMET) assistance for Armenia — $450,000 less than his request for Azerbaijan.
The complete figures are provided in the chart.
The Congress is still working out funding for the remainder of FY 2011, with the U.S. House set to vote on its revised version of a Continuing Resolution on Tuesday, February 15th. House Resolution 1 (H.R.1) asks for $697.1 million in assistance to Europe and
Eurasia, a $45 million reduction from the previous year. No specific assistance amounts are specified for Armenia or Nagorno Karabakh in the measure. Following final Congressional approval and Presidential signature, the State Department will report to
Congress how it intends to spend these funds. Congress will have an opportunity at that time to comment on specific funding matters.
Armenian Americans have been contacting their legislators over the past several weeks urging them to maintain high levels of U.S. assistance to Armenia and Nagorno Karabakh. ANCA Webmails to members of the House and Senate highlights the constructive cooperation of Armenia with the United States on a broad range of regional, security, and peace-keeping challenges: “The Armenian government sent troops to Iraq as part of our Coalition operations, has forces in Kosovo as part of NATO peacekeeping efforts, and has sent a contingent of forces to Afghanistan in support of our nation’s military mission. In addition, Armenia is actively and constructively engaged in the OSCE Minsk Group’s Nagorno Karabakh peace process and, despite any meaningful reciprocation from Turkey, remains party to a set of Protocols aimed at normalizing bilateral ties between the two nations.”
The ANCA alert is available here.
After approving the FY 2011 Budget, the Foreign Operations Subcommittees of the House and Senate Appropriation Committees will review the President’s FY 2012 proposal and each will draft their own versions of the assistance bill.