White House Submits Budget to Congress
Armenian Assembly of America Advances Key Priorities for Armenia and Artsakh
WASHINGTON, D.C. – As President Barack Obama sent his budget recommendations for Fiscal Year 2017 (FY17) to Congress this week, the Armenian Assembly of America (Assembly) continues to advance key priorities for Armenia and Artsakh.
In a recent meeting with State Department officials, Assembly leaders reiterated their concerns over Azerbaijan’s ongoing cease-fire violations, including the targeting of a kindergarten, and the dual blockade of Armenia by Turkey and Azerbaijan. In addition, the Assembly also expressed its concerns for the safety and well-being of Christians at risk in the Middle East, including those fleeing Iraq and Syria who are taking refuge in Armenia.
The FY17 budget request includes $22.4 million in economic support funds for Armenia, a increase from FY16. The President’s budget also maintains military parity between Armenia and Azerbaijan, at $1 million for Foreign Military Financing (FMF) and $600,000 for International Military Education and Training (IMET), a decrease from last year. In addition, the Administration proposed $1.7 million in international narcotics control and law enforcement, which is the same as last year. The Administration’s budget also maintains Section 907 of the Freedom Support Act, which restricts assistance to Azerbaijan until it ceases its hostile actions against Armenia.
The proposed budget also envisions nearly $3 billion for migration and refugee assistance, highlighting that “the world is struggling with humanitarian crises that are unprecedented, both in severity and duration. Through the Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration (PRM)’s global programs, the U.S. government seeks to protect and assist the world’s most vulnerable people including refugees, conflict victims, internally displaced persons (IDPs), stateless persons, and vulnerable migrants.”
“The Assembly will continue to advance key priorities for the benefit of the Armenian people and the strengthening of U.S.-Armenia relations, as it did last year with its testimony before the House and Senate Appropriations Committees,” stated Assembly Executive Director Bryan Ardouny. “We must ensure that Armenia has the resources to address the compelling humanitarian needs as a result of the crisis in Syria and the influx of refugees going to Armenia,” Ardouny added.
Armenia is also slated to receive funding through a renewable energy pilot project known as the Program for Scaling Up Renewable Energy (SREP). SREP helps demonstrate the economic, social, and environmental viability of low-carbon development pathways. The overall value of currently planned SREP investments is $604 million for 18 countries, including Armenia.
The Administration’s proposal comes as the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank are considering a $4 billion bailout for Azerbaijan, which the Assembly strongly opposed in a January 29 letter to Secretary of State John Kerry and Treasury Secretary Jack Lew. The Assembly will continue to oppose any bailout of Azerbaijan, especially if it includes U.S. taxpayer dollars.
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©(3) tax-exempt membership organization.