ASSEMBLY REINFORCES SIGNIFICANCE OF AID PACKAGE
Washington, D.C. – A bipartisan letter to the House Appropriations Subcommittee on State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs, spearheaded by Congressional Armenian Caucus Co-Chair Rep. Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ) and cosigned by over 60 Members of Congress, calls for a robust aid package to Artsakh and Armenia in the Fiscal Year 2023 House Appropriations Bill, reported the Armenian Assembly of America (Assembly).
In the letter, the lawmakers call for $100 million in security, economic, governance, and rule of law assistance to Armenia through State Department and USAID accounts, $50 million for assistance to Artsakh, and the suspension of U.S. military aid to Azerbaijan.
«The people of Artsakh continue to face severe hardships caused both by the deadly 44-day war Azerbaijani forces provoked in 2020 and their ongoing provocations against innocent civilians to this day,» according to the letter addressed to the Chairwoman of the Appropriations Subcommittee Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA) and Ranking Member Hal Rogers (R-KY). In addition, the lawmakers cited the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), which affirms that 88 percent of the approximately 90,000 refugees from Artsakh are women, children, and the elderly. «The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) also acknowledges that an «acute humanitarian crisis» continues for many of these families, including those who have been able to return to Artsakh.»
Regarding prohibition on U.S. military aid to Azerbaijan, the lawmakers note that «President Ilham Aliyev began his brutal 2020 assault on Artsakh not long after receiving over $100 million in security assistance through the Section 333 Building Partner Capacity Program in Fiscal Years 2018 and 2019. Azerbaijani forces used advanced Turkish drones, cluster munitions, and white phosphorus to indiscriminately attack homes, churches, and hospitals killing thousands in the 44-day war.» They also highlight the recent report by the 2022 Government Accountability Office Report (GAO) that «the State Department likely violated Section 907 of the FREEDOM Support Act in sending this and other assistance to Azerbaijan from 2014 to 2021.»
Despite a ceasefire statement signed on November 9, 2020, the lawmakers call attention to the fact that «Azerbaijan continues its aggressive behavior in the region with troop movements and other escalatory measures into Armenian and Artsakh territories…It is equally concerning that Azerbaijani troops continue to carry out the desecration of Armenian Christian holy sites, weaponize major sources of natural gas for civilians, and illegally detain and abuse Armenian prisoners of war.»
The Assembly reinforced this bipartisan initiative in a letter submitted last week to the House Appropriations Subcommittee on State, Foreign Operations, and Related programs. Specifically, the Assembly emphasized its strong support for a robust U.S. aid package to Artsakh and Armenia with $50 million in humanitarian assistance to Artsakh, $100 million to Armenia, and the prohibition of U.S. military aid to Azerbaijan.
In addition to Armenian Caucus leaders, Reps. Pallone, Gus Bilirakis (R-FL), Jackie Speier (D-CA) and Adam Schiff (D-CA), cosigners include: Reps. Jake Auchincloss (D-MA), Jim Banks (R-IN), Nanette Diaz Barragán (D-CA), Don Beyer (D-VA), Cheri Bustos (D-IL), Salud Carbajal (D-CA), Tony Cárdenas (D-CA), Joaquin Castro (D-TX), Judy Chu (D-CA), Lou Correa (D-CA), Jim Costa (D-CA), David Cicilline (D-RI), Danny Davis (D-IL), Diana DeGette (D-CO), Anna Eshoo (D-CA), Lizzie Fletcher (D-TX), Josh Gottheimer (D-NJ), Brian Higgins (D-NY), Jim Himes (D-CT), Steven Horsford (D-NV), Chrissy Houlahan (D-PA), Jared Huffman (D-CA), Ro Khanna (D-CA), Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-IL), Jim Langevin (D-RI), Andy Levin (D-MI), Mike Levin (D-CA), Ted Lieu (D-CA), Zoe Lofgren (D-CA), Alan Lowenthal (D-CA), Stephen Lynch (D-MA), Nicole Malliotakis (R-NY), Carolyn Maloney (D-NY), Jim McGovern (D-MA), Seth Moulton (D-MA), Grace Napolitano (D-CA), Richard Neal (D-MA), Donald Norcross (D-NJ), Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC), Ilhan Omar (D-MN), Chris Pappas (D-NH), Donald Payne, Jr. (D-NJ), Chellie Pingree (D-ME), Kathleen Rice (D-NY), Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-CA), Linda Sánchez (D-CA), John Sarbanes (D-MD), Jan Schakowsky (D-IL), Brad Schneider (D-IL), Brad Sherman (D-CA), Albio Sires (D-NJ), Abigail Spanberger (D-VA), Haley Stevens (D-MI), Tom Suozzi (D-NY), Dina Titus (D-NV), Paul Tonko (D-NY), Lori Trahan (D-MA), Peter Welch (D-VT), and Susan Wild (D-PA).
Established in 1972, the Armenian Assembly of America is the largest Washington-based nationwide organization promoting public understanding and awareness of Armenian issues. The Assembly is a non-partisan, 501(c)(3) tax-exempt membership organization.