March 12, 2019 - 11:03 AMT
PanARMENIAN.Net - With a strong focus on the new opportunities for the growth of U.S.-Armenia relations in the wake of last year’s Velvet Revolution, House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Frank Pallone (D-NJ) and House Select Committee on Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff (D-CA) each offered testimony to the U.S. House foreign aid panel in support of expanded assistance to both Armenia and Artsakh, reported the Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA).
They both urged the Appropriations Subcommittee on State-Foreign Operations to support Armenia and:
• Ensure not less than $30,000,000 be made available for governance and rule of law assistance to Armenia.
• Ensure not less than $20,000,000 be made available for economic assistance to Armenia.
• Support FMF aid for projects that develop Armenia’s capability to undertake peacekeeping missions.
• Increase IMET funding to expand U.S. training opportunities for Armenian officers.
• 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 to the peaceful resolution of regional conflicts.
For Artsakh, they urged the Subcommittee to:
• Ensure that not less than $6 million in Fiscal Year 2020 aid be appropriated to Nagorno-Karabakh for de-mining efforts and other humanitarian projects.
• Suspend U.S. military aid to Azerbaijan until its government ceases its attacks against Armenia and Nagorno- Karabakh, and agrees to the peaceful resolution of regional conflicts.
• In the interest of effective U.S. oversight of our aid programs, we request that the Department of State and USAID lift any official or unofficial restrictions on U.S. travel, communication, or contacts with Artsakh government officials or civil society stakeholders.
• Include bill language providing funding to support implementation of the Royce-Engel peace proposals, prioritizing the placement of OSCE-monitored, advanced gunfire locator systems and sound-ranging equipment to determine the source of attacks along the line of contact.
In their testimony, both Congressman Pallone and Congressman Schiff called upon the Subcommittee to appropriate funds to support media freedom, judicial independence, anti-corruption, and civil society programs. They also encouraged the panel to zero-out U.S. military aid to Azerbaijan “until its government ceases its attacks against Armenia and Nagorno Karabakh and agrees to the peaceful resolution of regional conflicts.
“We strongly support the foreign aid priorities advanced by Congressmen Schiff and Pallone and thank them both their leadership in working with key appropriators in support of a forward-leaning aid package for Artsakh and Armenia,” said ANCA Executive Director Aram Hamparian. “We look forward to continuing to engage with our friends across Capitol Hill throughout the appropriations process to support each of these priorities, and – more broadly – to leveraging U.S. aid policy in driving a strategic upgrade in U.S.-Armenia political, economic, and military relations.”
ANCA Government Affairs Director Raffi Karakashian will also be providing testimony on the ANCA’s FY2020 foreign aid priorities before the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Foreign Operations on Tuesday, March 12.