The Bush Administration’s recently released foreign assistance proposals for fiscal year 2002 include a 22% reduction in aid to Armenia and a dramatic 46% increase in assistance to Azerbaijan, reported the Armenian National Committee of America.
“We are troubled by this proposed reduction in assistance to Armenia and are hopeful that Congress, as it has in the past, will restore Armenia’s aid package to, at the very least, its current level,” said Aram Hamparian, Executive Director of the ANCA. “The Administration sends the wrong message to the region by proposing a 22% reduction in aid to Armenia, which has led the region in democratic development and economic reform, while seeking to increase aid to Azerbaijan’s corrupt government by 46% – essentially rewarding that regime for blockading its neighbors.”
In testimony last month before a key Congressional foreign aid panel, the ANCA expressed its support for “at least the same percentages of funding for the Southern Caucasus region and Armenia as in fiscal year 2001, with the base-line being the fiscal year 2001 earmark. This appropriation will help offset the devastating effects of the Turkish and Azerbaijani blockades and help continue Armenia’s political and economic transition. Specifically, these funds will be used to develop the economy and infrastructure, further strengthen democratic institutions, and meet the country’s current development and humanitarian needs. We are confident that with this assistance an economically viable Armenia will be a catalyst for development throughout the Caucasus and all of the New Independent States.”
The Bush proposal, while representing a sharp reduction in support for Armenia, calls for a smaller percentage reduction than the 27% decrease proposed last year by the Clinton Administration. Similarly, President Bush’s proposed 46% increase in aid to Azerbaijan was less than the 77% mark up recommended last year by President Clinton.
The Administration’s proposed budget figures would decrease U.S. FY02 aid to Armenia to $70 million, down from close to 90 million (estimated) for FY01. These figures represent a sharp drop from the $102 million allocated in FY00, the last year for which actual figures are available. The White House FY02 proposal of $50 million for Azerbaijan represents a 46% increase over the FY01 figure of $34,250,000 (estimated). This assistance for Azerbaijan is allocated in accordance with the provisions of Section 907 of the Freedom Support Act, which restricts U.S. aid to the government of Azerbaijan, while allowing for certain types of democracy, human rights, trade development, humanitarian and other assistance.