37 Democratic House Members Urge President Bush to Support Parity in Military Funding to Armenia and Azerbaijan

Feb 26, 2004

Washington, D.C. --- 37 Democratic members of the U.S. House of Representatives today sent a letter to President Bush urging him to support parity in military funding to Armenia and Azerbaijan. The letter was sent in response to the president's Fiscal Year (FY) 2005 budget request, in which he asked for $8.75 million in military assistance for Azerbaijan, $6 million more than the $2.75 million requested for Armenia.

In the letter, initiated by U.S. Rep. Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ), co-chair of the Congressional Caucus on Armenian Issues, the Democratic lawmakers expressed their concerns that the president's budget request undermines the security parity agreement made between the Bush administration and Congress several years ago, and that the funding, if allocated, would have a potentially destabilizing effect on the South Caucasus.

"We are troubled that the Administration is abandoning its own agreement with Congress and a decade long U.S. policy of maintaining parity in foreign military aid levels to Armenia and Azerbaijan," the Democratic members wrote in the letter to President Bush. "We strongly believe that your request in this area would undermine the stability in the South Caucasus region, and would weaken the ongoing peace negotiations regarding the Nagorno Karabakh conflict.

"We strongly believe that providing unequal military assistance to Azerbaijan and Armenia will contribute to instability in the region and could unintentionally tip the military balance," the members continued. "It is vitally important that the administration and Congress maintain parity in levels of any military/security assistance provided to Azerbaijan and Armenia, and we in Congress will work to reinstate this vital policy."

In the aftermath of September 11th, Congress heeded the Bush Administration's request and granted the President limited and conditional authority to waive Section 907 of the Freedom Support Act in order to provide Azerbaijan with military assistance to help the U.S. in the war against terrorism. However, the waiver language made it clear that any assistance provided shall not "undermine or hamper" the Karabakh peace process or "be used for offensive purposes against Armenia or Armenian communities in the South Caucuses." Additionally, the waiver language requires that the President consult with Congress prior to providing any assistance under the agreement and report to Congress "in detail" on "the nature and quantity" of such assistance, its impact on the military balance between Armenia and Azerbaijan and negotiations over Karabakh.

Following, is a list of the 37 lawmakers who signed the letter to President Bush:

Frank Pallone, Jr.

John Conyers, Jr.

Brad Sherman

James R. Langevin

Edward J. Markey

Grace F. Napolitano

Carolyn Maloney

Adam Schiff

Sherrod Brown

Patrick J. Kennedy

Barney Frank

James P. McGovern

Diane Watson

Michael Capuano

Anthony D. Weiner

Marty Meehan

Maurice D. Hinchey

Collin C. Peterson

Eleanor Holmes Norton

Stephanie Tubbs Jones

Henry A. Waxman

Steven R. Rothman

Bob Filner

Michael R. McNulty

Edolphus Towns

Joseph Crowley

Karen McCarthy

Jerry F. Costello

Sander Levin

Dale Kildee

Xavier Becerra

Robert E. Andrews

Peter J. Visclosky

Martin Frost

Michael M. Honda

Anna Eshoo

Howard Berman