69 Caucus Members Lead Bipartisan Fight for Robust Funding for Armenia and Artsakh in House Foreign Affairs Spending Bill

Washington, DC – Congressional Caucus on Armenian Issues Co-Chairs Congressman Frank Pallone, Jr. (NJ-06), Gus M. Bilirakis (FL-12), and Adam B. Schiff (CA-28) and 66 Members of Congress sent a letter on March 23, 2023, requesting significant economic assistance for the Republic of Armenia and the Republic of Artsakh (Nagorno-Karabakh) in the Fiscal Year 2024 State and Foreign Relations funding legislation.

The lawmakers requested a minimum of $100 million to bolster Armenia’s democratic, economic, energy reforms, and rule of law reforms and $50 million in funding for humanitarian assistance to the people of Artsakh. The letter also includes requests for full prohibition of U.S. security assistance to Azerbaijan, an assessment of potential sanctions against Azerbaijani officials who committed human rights abuses, and the immediate release of all Armenian prisoners of war.

“Azerbaijan’s inhumane blockade of Artsakh has left the region’s Armenian population on the brink of a humanitarian crisis and threatens to have lasting consequences on the region’s security. These cruel actions are taking place as the people of Artsakh continue to face severe hardships caused by the deadly 44-day war Azerbaijani forces launched in 2020,” the lawmakers wrote. “According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), 88 percent of the approximately 90,000 refugees displaced to Armenia were women, children, and the elderly. The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) also acknowledges that an ‘acute humanitarian crisis’ continues for many of these families, including those who have been able to return to Artsakh. Unfortunately, the assistance provided to date by the U.S. government is wholly insufficient to address the overwhelming needs of these people.”

“The United States remains uniquely positioned to make important diplomatic advances in the South Caucasus. This is especially true in Armenia, an ancient nation with a modern democracy that continues to make democratic reforms in a region dominated by autocratic leaders.

Providing significant assistance to Armenia will help make it more secure, bolster its democracy, sustain economic development, and stabilize its civil society,” the lawmakers continued. “Providing security assistance to Armenia at this time is especially important as the Armenian people seek international assistance in protecting their sovereignty in the face of a constant Azerbaijani expansionism and authoritarianism.”

The Aliyev regime’s destabilizing actions continuously threaten Armenians in the South Caucasus. The blockade of the Lachin Corridor for over 100 days puts the lives and livelihoods of over 120,000 people in Artsakh at risk. It is currently exacerbating the humanitarian crisis caused by Azerbaijan’s deadly 2020 invasion of Artsakh that killed 5,000 and forced more than 100,000 ethnic Armenians to leave their homes. Azeri forces continue to harass, detain, and kill individuals in Armenia and Artsakh, while also falsely declaring Armenian territory as their own.

Despite these provocations, Armenia continues to take important strides forward in its democratic, economic, judicial, and social reforms. The Congressional Caucus on Armenian Issues successfully fought for the inclusion of $60 million in assistance for Armenia in the Fiscal Year 2023 spending bill and $45 million in the Fiscal Year 2022 bill to aid in these reforms and strengthen the U.S.-Armenia partnership.

A copy of a letter sent by the Caucus Co-Chairs to the State and Foreign Operations Subcommittee on March 22 is available HERE.