The Armenian Assembly of America (Assembly) Executive Director Bryan Ardouny outlined key priorities in the congressional testimony submitted to the House Appropriations Subcommittee on State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs. In the testimony, Ardouny reiterated the bipartisan letter sent to the Subcommittee, spearheaded by Armenian Caucus Co-Chair Rep. Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ), and commended the Members of Congress for signing.
In particular, the Assembly’s testimony calls for: $40 million in U.S. economic assistance to Armenia; $40 million to support Armenia’s efforts to serve as a regional safe haven for refugees; $20 million to implement the Royce-Engel initiative to advance peace; $11 million in U.S. military assistance to Armenia; $8 million to Artsakh; assistance to the Samtskhe-Javakheti region of Georgia; regional energy security; and reaffirmation of the U.S. record on the Armenian Genocide. Armenia continues to demonstrate its resilience, which is why the Assembly also strongly supports a second U.S.-Armenia compact of the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC).
The Assembly’s testimony specifically drew attention to Azerbaijan’s deadly cease-fire violations, including last April’s unprecedented offensive that started with the killing of a 12-year-old boy and continued with the gruesome ISIS-style beheading of an Armenian soldier and mutilation of an elderly Armenian couple. Given Azerbaijan’s blatant cease-fire violations, the Assembly called upon the United States to “directly condemn such actions and avoid engaging in false equivalency between the aggressor and those defending themselves” and urged the Subcommittee to cease military funding to Azerbaijan. America cannot afford it and Azerbaijan does not need it.
Ardouny highlighted the fact that Armenia was the first nation to adopt Christianity in 301 A.D. and emphasized the importance of safe guarding Christian and other minority communities wherever they may reside. The Assembly testimony also commended the work of the Near East Foundation (NEF) in this regard and urged funding to support NEF’s work in Armenia. In addition to allocating aid to Armenia and Artsakh, Ardouny urged Members to visit Armenia as well as watch the movie titled The Promise, a film which depicts the extraordinary events of the Armenian Genocide and comes to theaters this month.