WASHINGTON — Congressional Caucus on Armenian Issues Co-Chairs Congresswoman Jackie Speier (CA-14) and Congressmen Frank Pallone, Jr. (NJ-06), ), Gus M. Bilirakis (FL-12), David Valadao (CA-21), and Adam B. Schiff (CA-28) last month announced the inclusion of an unprecedented $60 million in economic assistance for Armenia and $2 million for demining activities in Artsakh in the Appropriations Subcommittee on State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs spending bill for Fiscal Year 2023 that passed the full committee. This welcomed news comes after Speier and 63 Members of Congress sent a letter in April, requesting the Subcommittee to include robust aid for Armenia and Artsakh in the bill. The House is expected to vote on the underlying legislation in the coming months.
The funding for Armenia will help to bolster its economic development, private sector productivity, energy independence, and democratic and rule of law reforms. The funding language offers flexibility to address the ongoing humanitarian needs in Artsakh linked to the deadly 2020 war provoked by Azerbaijan. The bill also includes funding for demining activities that will help clear some of the dangerous mines and unexploded ordinances on civilian lands in Artsakh. Additionally, the bill includes language requiring the State Department and USAID to develop an assistance strategy for addressing humanitarian and recovery needs arising from the deadly 2020 war provoked by Azerbaijan in Artsakh. The strategy will identify resources and programs available to address the ongoing crisis, along with an estimate of resources available for such purpose.
“The significant economic support for Armenia and Artsakh included in the Fiscal Year 2023 funding bill demonstrates a firm commitment from the United States House of Representatives to the Armenian people. We are pleased with the strong commitment the Appropriations Committee has made to the U.S.-Armenia relationship, and especially thank Appropriations State and Foreign Relations Subcommittee Chairwoman Barbara Lee (CA-13) and others on the committee for their work on this bill. This funding will go a long way in helping Armenia to build upon the significant democratic reforms it is currently enacting and help it grow into a strong regional economic partner for the United States.”
“We also welcome the inclusion of demining funding for Artsakh and the language requiring the Administration to develop an assistance strategy to address the ongoing humanitarian needs relating to the 2020 war. It’s clear that more can and must be done to help the people of Armenia and Artsakh in their time of need. We must also do more to hold Azerbaijan accountable for their aggressions and destabilizing actions in the region. We are deeply disappointed that the Department of State waived Section 907 of the Freedom Support Act last week, potentially allowing U.S. assistance to flow to Azerbaijan. We will continue to explore every action possible to halt any further funding to the corrupt Aliyev regime.”
In September 2020, Azerbaijan, actively aided by Turkey and foreign mercenaries, initiated a deadly invasion of Artsakh that led to six weeks of devastating fighting that killed more than 5,000 people and forced more than 100,000 ethnic Armenians to flee their homes. Artsakh and Armenia continue to grapple with an ongoing humanitarian crisis that resulted from the invasion. Meanwhile, Azerbaijan continues to provocatively station troops in Armenian territory while falsely declaring the land as its own and illegally holding ethnic Armenians as detainees and prisoners of war in contravention of international human rights law.