Congress Gives Final Funding Approval of $83 Million to Armenia and Nagorno Karabakh
Washington, D.C. -- The U.S. Senate yesterday approved more than $83 million in aid and military assistance to Armenia and aid to Nagorno Karabakh as part of a large omnibus bill for Fiscal Year (FY) 2004, said U.S. Reps. Joe Knollenberg (R-MI) and Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ), co-chairs of the Congressional Caucus on Armenian Issues.
"As long as Armenias neighbors maintain their economic blockade of Armenia, American assistance is critical to the development of Armenia," Knollenberg said. "This aid, now approved by both the House and Senate, reaffirms our commitment to our friend and ally, and ensures that the relationship between our two countries grows stronger economically and militarily."
"Im pleased this final bill provides significantly more money to Armenia and Nagorno Karabakh than what President Bush requested last year when the appropriations process began," Pallone said. "These funds are crucial as Armenia continues to implement economic and democratic reforms in the continued shadow of dual blockades."
Aid to Armenia
Knollenberg, a senior member of the House Foreign Operations Appropriations Subcommittee, and Pallone said the omnibus bill maintains significant assistance by calling for not less than $75 million in U.S. assistance to Armenia. The $75 million is substantially higher than the $49.5 million requested last year by President Bush in his FY 2004 budget.
Aid to Nagorno Karabakh
The two lawmakers said the $5 million in humanitarian assistance to Nagorno Karabakh helps fund the rebuilding of homes, improving water supplies and healthcare and providing income-generating opportunities for the most vulnerable groups.
U.S. Military Assistance to Armenia
The bill also includes $2.5 million in Foreign Military Financing and $900,000 in International Military Education Training assistance to Armenia to strengthen the U.S.-Armenia military relationship.
Maintain Section 907 of the FREEDOM Support Act
While the president continues to have the ability to waive Section 907 of the FREEDOM Support Act, Knollenberg and Pallone said they would continue to push the State Department to provide Congress detailed reports regarding events in the South Caucasus and the effects of assistance to Azerbaijan.
Peace Process (the Nagorno Karabakh conflict)
Finally, the spending bill provides for possible funding of confidence-building measures to help facilitate a peaceful resolution of the NKR conflict in the event that Azerbaijan chooses to engage in such measures.
The funds were included in the $328.1 billion spending bill that combined seven appropriations bills into one omnibus bill funding domestic programs and foreign operations for FY 2004, which officially began on October 1, 2003. The Senates action yesterday came one month after the U.S. House of Representatives approved the same spending bill. The bill now awaits the presidents signature.