Capitol Hill Reception Welcoming Armenian Parliamentary Delegation Slated for This Evening
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, the Armenian Assembly of America (Assembly) urged support for the just released Congressional Caucus on Armenian Issues letter outlining key aid priorities for Fiscal Year (FY) 2019. The Caucus initiative comes as a delegation of Armenian Parliamentarians, led by Arpine Hovhannisyan, Deputy Speaker of the National Assembly of Armenia and Chairwoman of the Armenia-U.S. Parliamentary Friendship Group, are in Washington, D.C. for a week-long working visit, which includes a welcome reception on Capitol Hill this evening.
The letter states in part: “We are writing to thank the [House Foreign Operations Appropriations] Subcommittee for its longstanding leadership in support of Armenia and Artsakh (Nagorno Karabakh) – especially as we celebrate a century of U.S.-Armenia relations. We encourage you, as you work with your colleagues in preparing the Fiscal Year 2019 State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs Appropriations bill, to advance U.S. interests by strengthening Armenia’s independence, promoting a lasting and stable peace in Artsakh, and supporting Armenia as a regional safe haven for at-risk refugees in the Middle East.”
In addition, the letter requests that $6 million be appropriated to Artsakh for de-mining, rehabilitation programs, and water supply systems. It also stipulates the lifting of any official or unofficial restrictions on U.S. travel, communication, or contacts with Artsakh government officials or civil society stakeholders, and ensures no less than $4 million be allocated to support implementation of the Royce-Engel peace proposals to improve security in the region.
In response to Azerbaijan’s ongoing cease-fire violations and aggressive militant rhetoric, the Armenian Caucus proposes to “suspend U.S. military aid to Azerbaijan until its government ceases its attacks against Armenia and Nagorno Karabakh, ends its threat of renewed war, and agrees to the peaceful resolution of regional conflicts.” The letter also called for stricter provisions of Section 907 of the FREEDOM Support Act to ensure that Azerbaijan will not take hostile action towards Armenia or Artsakh, and instead pledges to demonstrate its commitment to pursuing lasting peace through solely non-violent means.
As pointed out in the letter, Armenia has taken significant strides since its independence, and remains committed to democracy, rule of law, freedom of expression, and free enterprise while participating in U.S.-led peace-keeping deployments. As a result, the Armenian Caucus proposes that Armenia receives not less than $30 million for economic assistance, not less than $10 million for military assistance, and a full and fair consideration for a Science, Technology, Education, and Math education grant for its public school system through the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC).
Finally, the letter requests that the Subcommittee appropriate at least $20 million “to help Armenia provide transition support to refugees from Syria and throughout the Middle East who have found safe haven in Armenia,” especially considering Armenia’s efforts to provide shelter for nearly 25,000 refugees from Syria, despite being a small country.
“The Armenian Assembly strongly encourages its grassroots activists to contact their Member of Congress and ensure they sign onto this bipartisan initiative to further help Armenia and Artsakh,” stated Development and Grassroots Associate Mariam Khaloyan.
The House and Senate are still finalizing the FY 2018 appropriations bills, and once complete, will begin work on the FY 2019 bills.
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.