WASHINGTON — Armenian Caucus Co-Chair Rep. Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ) and House Intelligence Committee Ranking Member and Armenian Caucus Vice Chair Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) provided testimony in support of aid to Armenia and Artsakh as the Administration released the budget blueprint for Fiscal Year 2018.
Schiff told the Armenian Assembly of America that “I remain deeply troubled by the ongoing cease-fire violations, including attacks against civilians, and the strong evidence of human rights abuses on the part of Azeri troops. I will continue to work with my colleagues to advance key priorities to ensure peace and stability in the region. I also look forward to strengthening and expanding the Armenian Caucus.”
In his testimony, Schiff discussed prioritization for Armenia and the people of Artsakh for the FY18 budget before the House Appropriations Subcommittee on State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs.
“I was deeply disturbed by the escalation of violence in the last year and the major military assault by Azerbaijani forces against the people of Artsakh…In light of the escalating violence and aggression, I urge the Subcommittee to support implementation of the Royce-Engel peace proposals, prioritizing the placement of independent monitors and equipment to determine the source of attacks along the line of contact; suspend US military aid to Azerbaijan until its government ceases its attacks against Armenia and Nagorno Karabakh, and agrees to the peaceful resolution of regional conflicts; [and] continue and expand on the humanitarian assistance provided to Artsakh’s civilians, including the continuation of de-mining programs as well as support for development, assistance to people living with disabilities, and water supply systems,” Schiff said.
He urged the Appropriations Committee to support economic and military assistance, which enables Armenia’s membership in NATO’s Partnership for Peace and participation in peacekeeping operations. In addition, he requested specific language in FY18 to recognize “Armenia’s efforts to serve as a regional safe haven for Christians and other at-risk populations fleeing violence in the Middle East, and supporting these efforts through aid and international organizations.”
Pallone submitted his testimony and similarly pointed out that Armenia is an important safe haven for refugees and a strategic American ally, adding that “US aid has also provided critical support for US-led peacekeeping deployments and NATO interoperability in the region.”