Pallone Praises Foreign Aid Subcommittee for Reinstituting Military Parity
Washington, D.C. --- U.S. Rep. Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ), co-chairman of the Congressional Caucus on Armenian Issues, praised the House Foreign Operations Appropriations Subcommittee today for reinstituting military parity between Azerbaijan and Armenia.
Yesterday, the subcommittee approved its Fiscal Year (FY) 2005 Foreign Operations Appropriations bill that allocated $5 million in military funding to both countries. The subcommittee's action was a direct rebuke to the Bush administration, which earlier this year requested a $6 million increase to Azerbaijan over Armenia.
"The Foreign Operations Subcommittee should be congratulated for refusing to follow the Bush administration's misguided policy by instead reinstating military parity between Armenia and Azerbaijan," Pallone said. "The United States must be perceived by both Armenia and Azerbaijan as an unbiased and impartial mediator, and the subcommittee realized that providing asymmetrical military assistance does not serve that vital objective."
Earlier this year, after Assistant Secretary of State Elizabeth Jones stated in testimony before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee that the administration does not have a policy ensuring military funding levels for the two countries be identical and confirmed a request for increased military funding for Azerbaijan, Pallone sent a letter to President Bush urging him to reconsider his administration's misguided position.
The New Jersey congressman voiced strong opposition to the Bush administration's decision to abandon a 2001 agreement to provide parity in military funding to Armenia and Azerbaijan. The agreement requires that Congress receive prior notification of the "nature and quantity" of any additional assistance to Azerbaijan and the impact it would have on the military balance with Armenia and negotiations over Nagorno Karabakh.
While Pallone and 41 of his colleagues requested the subcommittee provide "not less than" 75 million in economic assistance for Armenia, he supported the subcommittee's approval of "not less than" $65 million because its $3 million more than the administration suggested. Nevertheless, Pallone said he would work to convince his colleagues in the Senate to increase those levels when they take up the bill later this summer.
Pallone also praised the subcommittee for providing $5 million in military funding, $3 million more than the administration suggested, as well as $5 million in humanitarian assistance for Nagorno Karabakh.