WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, the House Appropriations Subcommittee on State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs held a hearing for members of Congress to testify and submit requests for the Fiscal Year 2021. Among those who testified in person were Congresswoman Judy Chu (D-CA) and Congressman Jim Costa (D-CA), who requested robust funding to Artsakh (also known as Nagorno-Karabakh) including de-mining, reported the Armenian Assembly of America (Assembly).
In her testimony, Congresswoman Chu requested $10 million to continue America’s successful and life-saving de-mining program in Nagorno-Karabakh. She also underlined the troubling disparity of U.S. military aid between Armenia and Azerbaijan by noting, “This request of $10 million pales in comparison to the $100 million in security assistance given to Azerbaijan, so we can be sure that financial constraints are not the obstacle here.” Last year, working in tandem with The HALO Trust, the Assembly helped spearhead a letter on the importance of funding for de-mining in Artsakh.
Rep. Costa also highlighted the importance of demining stating: “I think it is our moral duty as a nation to continue to lead this humanitarian effort, and I strongly urge this committee to robustly fund non-proliferation, anti-terrorism, de-mining, and related programs,” said Congressman Costa during his testimony. He too urged that operations to clear mines continue by The HALO Trust. “These programs are critical across the globe as we try to strive for peace and democracy as we try to stabilize troubled areas,” he added.
Earlier this week, Armenian Assembly Congressional Relations Director Mariam Khaloyan outlined key priorities in congressional testimony submitted to the House Appropriations Subcommittee on State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs.
The Assembly’s testimony calls for: $25 million in assistance to Nagorno Karabakh (Artsakh); $10 million in military assistance to Armenia; $100 million in democracy and economic development assistance to Armenia; and to reverse and rectify the severe military imbalance between Armenia and Azerbaijan. The Assembly also urges robust assistance to Christian and other minority communities at risk in the Middle East, as well as to more than 20,000 refugees in Armenia, and $20 million to support Armenia’s efforts to serve as a regional safe haven for refugees.
The Assembly’s testimony drew specific attention to the disparity in U.S. military aid between Azerbaijan and Armenia widely reported last year. At the 2019 National Advocacy Conference, the Assembly raised serious concerns and urged Congress to remedy this issue and uphold the letter and spirit of Section 907 by ensuring military aid parity. Further, given Azerbaijan’s war rhetoric and cease-fire violations, the Assembly also recommended that Congress cease any and all military assistance to Azerbaijan.
On another priority, the subject of Armenia’s progress in democratic development, Khaloyan added, “Given these remarkable advances to Armenia, we welcomed Congresswoman Jackie Speier’s amendment last year to provide $40 million in additional democratic assistance and urge not less than $100 million in FY 2021 for Armenia’s continued institutional reforms and economic development. By doing so, Congress will loudly signal that America strongly supports and invests in democracy, which will have a profound effect across the globe.”
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 501(c)(3) tax-exempt membership organization.