Senate Appropriations Committee Approves $40 Million for Armenia


WASHINGTON — This past week, the US Senate Committee on Appropriations approved the Fiscal Year (FY) 2011 State, Foreign Operations Appropriations Bill. The Committee recommended $40 million in assistance for Armenia, $1 million below last year’s level of $41 million, and equal to the administration’s request of $40 million.

“In light of Turkey’s ongoing blockade of Armenia, and its refusal to normalize relations without preconditions, the importance of US assistance to Armenia cannot be understated,” said Armenian Assembly of America Congressional Relations Associate Bianka Kadian-Dodov.

The Senate Committee action comes after the House Appropriations Subcommittee on State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs adopted its version of the bill last month, which included $44 million for Armenia and $10 million in assistance to Nagorno Karabagh.

“The Assembly will continue to work with both the Senate and House to ensure the best possible outcome for Armenia and Nagorno Karabagh,” said Assembly Executive Director Bryan Ardouny.

The Senate bill also called for “confidence- building measures and other activities in furtherance of the peaceful resolution of conflicts” for the “Southern Caucasus region.” In addition, the bill provided $25.5 million “to support people to people reconciliation programs, which bring together individuals of different ethnic, religious and political backgrounds from areas of civil strife and war.”

The committee also required a report regarding Section 907 of the Freedom Support Act directing the “Secretary of State to submit a report not later than 90  days after enactment of this act, analyzing the effectiveness of the restrictions on assistance for the Government of Azerbaijan as contained in section 907 of Public Law 102-511, and the exceptions to such restrictions on assistance provided under this heading, in furthering a resolution to the conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan. Such report shall also include specific recommendations for increasing opportunities for reconciliation between parties.”

Funding for Foreign Military Financing (FMF) and International Military Education Training (IMET) were not delineated for Armenia and Azerbaijan. Given Azerbaijan’s escalating military expenditures and its continued war mongering, the Assembly in its congressional testimony, “urged” appropriators “to cease military assistance to Azerbaijan.” The Committee’s report also expressed concerns “with repression of independent journalists in Azerbaijan” and directed the Secretary of State to “seek improvements in freedom of expression in connection with assistance for the central Government of Azerbaijan.”

Further action on the Senate and House bills will continue in September when members of congress return from the August recess.