Congressional Caucus on Armenian Issues Co-Chair Congressman Frank Pallone, Jr. (NJ-06), Jackie Speier (CA-14), David Valadao (CA-21), and Adam B. Schiff (CA-28) announced the inclusion of an unprecedented $60 million in economic assistance for Armenia and $2 million for demining activities in Artsakh in the Consolidated Appropriations Act spending bill for Fiscal Year 2023. This welcomed news comes after the Caucus Co-Chairs and 60 Members of Congress sent a letter in April, requesting the Appropriations Subcommittee on State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs include robust aid for Armenia and Artsakh in the bill.
The funding will help Armenia bolster its economic development, private sector productivity, energy independence, and democratic and rule of law reforms. The bill also includes funding for demining activities that will help clear some of the dangerous mines and unexploded ordinances on civilian lands in Artsakh. Additionally, the bill includes language requiring the State Department and USAID to develop an assistance strategy by identifying resources and programs available to address humanitarian and recovery needs from the deadly 2020 war provoked by Azerbaijan in Artsakh.
“The significant economic support for Armenia and Artsakh included in the Fiscal Year 2023 funding bill demonstrates a firm commitment from Congress to the Armenian people. We are pleased with the strong commitment the Appropriations Committee has made to the U.S.-Armenia relationship, and especially thank Appropriations State and Foreign Relations Subcommittee Chairwoman Barbara Lee (CA-13) and others on the Committee for their work on this bill. This funding will go a long way in helping Armenia to build upon the significant democratic reforms it is currently enacting and help it grow into a strong regional economic partner for the United States,” the lawmakers said.
“We also welcome the inclusion of demining funding for Artsakh and the language requiring the Administration to develop an assistance strategy to address the ongoing humanitarian needs relating to the 2020 war. But more must be done to help the people of Armenia and Artsakh in their time of need, especially as Azerbaijan continues its illegal blockade of the Lachin Corridor that is preventing the transportation of vital food, energy, medical supplies, and other essential good from going through, while also restricting civilian freedom of movement. Holding Azerbaijan accountable for their aggressions and destabilizing actions in the region is the only way to protect the people of Artsakh from this man-made humanitarian disaster and find a lasting settlement for this conflict. We will continue to explore every action possible to halt any further funding to the corrupt Aliyev regime and bring them back to the negotiating table through the OSCE Minsk Group and other multilateral processes,” the lawmakers concluded.
In September 2020, Azerbaijan, actively aided by Turkey and foreign mercenaries, initiated a deadly invasion of Artsakh that led to six weeks of devastating fighting that killed more than 5,000 people and forced more than 100,000 ethnic Armenians to flee their homes. Artsakh and Armenia continue to grapple with an ongoing humanitarian crisis that resulted from the invasion.
Azerbaijan continues to provocatively station troops in Armenian territory while falsely declaring the land as its own and illegally holding ethnic Armenians as detainees and prisoners of war in contravention of international human rights law. It has also weaponized civilian infrastructure like the Lachin Corridor and natural gas pipes connecting Armenia and Artsakh to intimidate Artsakh and fabricate a humanitarian crisis that threatens the 120,000 people who live there.