Administration Slashes Aid to Armenia

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Military Parity Kept with Azerbaijan

WASHINGTON — The Obama Administration released its proposed budget for Fiscal Year 2014, which maintained military parity between Armenia and Azerbaijan, but continued the overall downward trend in assistance to Eurasia and Central Asia countries, reported the Armenian Assembly of America.

Consistent with the levels provided in FY 2013, the Administration’s budget called for $2.7 million in Foreign Military Financing (FMF) and $600,000 in International Military Education Training (IMET) for Armenia and Azerbaijan, and thus maintained military parity with respect to these accounts.

In its FY 2014 testimony to the House, State Foreign Operations Appropriations Subcommittee last month, the Assembly called for at least $2.7 million in FMF and $600,000 in IMET funding for Armenia. Additionally, the Assembly’s testimony highlighted the inexplicable pardon of an Azeri officer who brutally murdered an Armenian officer at a NATO partnership for peace training exercise and urged that the Subcommittee “cease military assistance to Azerbaijan.”

In addition to FMF and IMET assistance, the administration’s FY 2014 budget also recommended that Armenia receive $24.7 million in Economic Support Funds (compared to the FY 2013 request of $27.2 million), and $2.8 million in International Narcotics Control and Law Enforcement (same as the FY 2013 request). In total, the FY 2014 budget provides $30.843 million in US assistance to Armenia, which is a $5 million reduction when compared to the Administration’s FY 2013 request of $35.843 million.

If approved by Congress, the budget would reduce US assistance to Armenia to its lowest level since the 1988 earthquake, reported the Armenian National Committee of America.

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Combining all the FY14 appropriated assistance to Armenia that the president is proposing, including economic, military, law enforcement and health, his current request represents a 14-percent reduction of his last request of Congress, as part of his FY13 budget.

The Assembly’s testimony requested not less than $50 million in aid to Armenia, which is consistent with the request of the Armenian Caucus co-chairs — Representatives Frank Pallone Jr. (D-NJ) and Michael Grimm (R-NY) — who are currently circulating a Dear Colleague letter urging support for key funding and policy priorities for Armenia and Artsakh.

While the administration’s budget did not specifically note funding levels for Artsakh, the Armenian Caucus and the Assembly are calling for at least $5 million in assistance for this fledging democracy.

“Given Turkey’s ongoing blockade of Armenia and the security threat in the region due to Azerbaijan’s ongoing war rhetoric against Armenia and Artsakh, coupled with the unconscionable pardon by Azerbaijan of a convicted axe murderer, the Assembly urges Congress to take these matters into account and allocate at least $50 million for Armenia,” stated Assembly Executive Director Bryan Ardouny.

“President Obama, who came into office pledging to maintain aid to Armenia and increase bilateral trade and investment, has consistently cut Armenian assistance programs, while failing to take any meaningful steps to promote the growth of economic relations through investment treaties, tax accords, trade missions, or other commonly utilized policies and practices,” said Armenian National Committee of America Executive Director Aram Hamparian.