WASHINGTON, D.C — On Wednesday March 7th, the Armenian Assembly of America (Assembly) urged support for the just released Congressional Caucus on Armenian Issues letter outlining key aid priorities for Fiscal Year (FY) 2019.
The Caucus initiative comes as a delegation of Armenian Parliamentarians, led by Arpine Hovhannisyan, Deputy Speaker of the National Assembly of Armenia and Chairwoman of the Armenia-U.S Parliamentary Friendship Group, are in Washington, D.C for a week-long working visit.
The letter states in part: “We are writing to thank the [House Foreign Operations Appropriations] Subcommittee for its longstanding leadership in support of Armenia and Artsakh (Nagorno-Karabakh) – especially as we celebrate a century of U.S-Armenia relations. We encourage you, as your work with your colleagues in preparing the Fiscal Year 2019 State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs Appropriations Bill to advance U.S interests by strengthening Armenia’s independence, promoting a lasting and stable peace in Artsakh, and supporting Armenia as a regional safe haven for at-risk refugees in the Middle East.”
In addition, the letter requests that $6 million be appropriated to Artsakh for demining, rehabilitation programs, and water supply systems. It also stipulates the lifting of any official or unofficial restrictions on U.S travel, communication or contacts with Artsakh government officials or civil society stakeholders, and ensures no less than $4 million be allocated to support implementation of the Royce-Engel peace proposals to improve security in the region.
In response to Azerbaijan’s ongoing cease-fire violations and aggressive militant rhetoric, the Armenian Caucus proposes to “suspend U.S military aid to Azerbaijan until its government ceases its attacks against Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh, ends its threat of renewed war, and agrees tot he peaceful resolution of regional conflicts.”
The letter also called for stricter provisions of Section 907 of the FREEDOM Support Act to ensure that Azerbaijan will not take hostile action towards Armenia or Artsakh, and instead pledges to demonstrate its commitment to pursuing lasting peace through solely non-violent means.
As pointed out in the letter, Armenia has taken significant strides since its independence, and remains committed to democracy, rule of law, freedom of expression, and free enterprise while participating in U.S led peace-keeping deployments. As a results, the Armenian Caucus proposes that Armenian receives not less than $30 million for economic assistance, not less than $10 million for military assistance, and a full and fair consideration for Science, Technology, Education, and Math education grant for its public school system through the Millenium Challenge Corporation (MCC).
Finally, the letter requests that the Subcommittee appropriate at least $20 million “to help Armenia provide transition support to refugees from Syria and throughout the Middle East who have found safe haven in Armenia,” especially considering Armenia’s efforts to provide shelter for 25,000 refugees from Syria, despite being a small country.
“The Armenian Assembly strongly encourages its grassroots activists to contact their Member of Congress and ensure they sign onto this bipartisan initiative to further help Armenia and Artsakh,” stated Development and Grassroots Associate Mariam Khaloyan.
The House and Senate are still finalizing the FY 2018 appropriation bills, and once complete, will being work on the FY 2019 bills.