Friday, December 28, 2007

U.S. President maintains Armenia and Azerbaijan military aid parity


U.S. President George Bush signed the fiscal year (FY) 2008 overall appropriations package this week, known as the omnibus bill, which included $58.5 million in economic assistance for Armenia and maintained Armenia and Azerbaijan military aid parity, reported the Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA.)

The Armenia economic aid figures are $17.5 million less than the FY 2007 figures but represent a clear increase over the Administration’s request of $35 million. Congress also approved $3 million in foreign military financing (FMF) assistance to Armenia and Azerbaijan, reversing the Administration’s latest bid to retreat from its 2001 pledge to maintain parity in military aid to Armenia and Azerbaijan.

"We are troubled by the reductions in aid to Armenia and Nagorno Karabakh, particularly in light on the ongoing economic costs of the Turkish and Azerbaijani blockades, as well as Baku’s increasingly violent rhetoric about restarting its war against the Armenians," said ANCA Executive Director Aram Hamparian. "We thank all of our friends in the Congressional appropriations process who, working against significant competing budgetary pressures – were able to deliver figures higher than the President’s request, and also to maintain military aid parity."

In addition to the Armenia allocation, the omnibus aid bill also includes $50.5 million for Georgia and $19 million for Azerbaijan. Millennium Challenge Account funding is set for $1.5 billion, half of President Bush’s request.

The final compromise aid legislation does not stipulate a specific amount of aid to Karabakh, urging the State Department to be guided instead by the individual Senate and House recommendations adopted earlier this year, one of which did allocate $6 million in aid to Karabakh.

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Note: Above are excerpts from the article. The full article appears here. Clarifications and comments by me are contained in {}. Deletions are marked by [...]. The bold emphasis is mine.



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