On March 27, the U.S. Department of State announced an assistance package to the Republic of Armenia to combat the novel Coronavirus COVID-19. According to the State Department, Armenia will receive $1.1 million in health assistance to help prepare laboratory systems, activate case-finding and event-based surveillance, support technical experts for response and preparedness, bolster risk communication, and more. The United States has invested nearly $106 million in health assistance and $1.57 billion total for Armenia over the past 20 years.
Armenia declared a 30-day ‘State of Emergency’ on Monday, March 16 that is slated to last until April 14 as the virus spreads throughout the region.
Comparatively, the two other South Caucus nations, Azerbaijan and Georgia, will also receive U.S. federal assistance at similar levels. Azerbaijan is slated to receive $1.7 million in health assistance to help prepare laboratory systems, activate case-finding and event-based surveillance, support technical experts for response and preparedness, bolster risk communication, and more. Over the past 20 years, the United States has invested nearly $41 million in health alone in Azerbaijan, and more than $890 million in total assistance, the State Department noted.
Georgia is slated to receive $1.1 million in health funding will help prepare laboratory systems, activate case-finding and event-based surveillance, support technical experts for response and preparedness, bolster risk communication, and more. The United States has provided nearly $139 million in health assistance and more than $3.6 billion in total U.S. assistance over the past 20 years.
On March 31st, the Republic of Artsakh (Nagorno Karabakh) held free and democratic elections for president and parliament. With a turnout of 72.7%, this year’s election was the first time that the young republic held presidential and parliamentary elections simultaneously.
The Artsakh Foreign Ministry issued a statement, which states in part: “We are convinced that the strengthening of democratic traditions and their spread throughout the South Caucasus will become an important contribution to ensuring peace, stability and predictability in the region, as well as create the necessary conditions for the final settlement of the Azerbaijan-Karabakh conflict by exclusively peaceful means. The consistent efforts of the authorities and people of Artsakh should be supported by the international community, since the strengthening of democracy, human rights and the rule of law is universal and therefore is the collective responsibility of the entire world community.”
The Armenian Foreign Ministry released a statement on the successful election stating, “The right of the people of Artsakh to self-determination is the foundation for the settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. This reality has been fully reflected in the principles and elements of settlement presented by the OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chairs, which envisage the determination of the final legal status of Nagorno-Karabakh through a legally binding expression of will.”
During the election process, Azerbaijan military forces again violated the cease-fire agreement and fired upon civilian Armenian villages.
Below are the presidential results reported by the Central Election Commission of the Republic of Artsakh:
- Arayik Harutyunyan – 49.26% (Free Motherland-UCA Alliance)
- Masis Mayilyan – 26.4% (New Artsakh Alliance)
- Vitali Balasanyan – 14.7% (Justice Party of Artsakh)
- Davit Ishkhanyan – 2.56% (Armenian Revolutionary Federation)
- Ashot Ghoulyan – 2.3% (Democratic Party of Artsakh)
- Hayk Khanumyan – 1.3% (National Renaissance Party)
- Vahan Badasyan – 1 percent (United Armenia Party)
- Davit Babayan – 0.8% (Conservative Party of Artsakh)
- Ruslan Israyelyan – 0.5% (Independence Generation Party)
- Kristin Balayan – 0.3% (Independent candidate)
- Ashot Dadayan – 0.3% (Independent candidate)
- Bella Lalayan – 0.2% (Independent candidate)
- Melsik Poghosyan – 0.2% (Independent candidate)
- Sergey Amiryan – 0.2% (Independent candidate)
Since no candidate received over 50% of the vote, the top two candidates, Arayik Harutyunyan and Masis Mayilyan, proceed to a runoff election which will take place on Tuesday, April 14, 2020.
In Artsakh’s parliamentary elections, twelve political parties participated and five secured participation in parliament by passing the 5% threshold for parties and 7% for blocs, according to a report issued by Artsakh Central Election Commission Chairwoman Srbuhi Arzumanyan. The elected parliamentary parties are Free Motherland-UCA Alliance (40.4%), United Homeland Party (23.63%), Justice Party of Artsakh (7.9%), Armenian Revolutionary Federation (6.4%), and Democratic Party of Artsakh (5.81%).
Florida Congressman Ted Deutch, 35 House Members Call to Substantially Increase Aid for Armenia and Artsakh
Armenian Assembly Boosts Congressional Call for $100 million Democracy-Building and Economic Assistance Package
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Congressman Ted Deutch (D-FL) joined 35 of his House colleagues in a letter that urges the House Appropriations Subcommittee on State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs to significantly increase prior aid requests to strengthen United States-Armenia relations and outlines key priorities for Fiscal Year (FY) 2020, the Armenian Assembly of America announced. The letter was spearheaded by Armenian Caucus Founder and Co-Chair Rep. Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ), Caucus Co-Chair Rep. Jackie Speier (D-CA), and Caucus Vice Chair Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA).
With sweeping cuts across the State Department’s budget, the Administration proposed $6.75 million for Armenia. A prior congressional effort requested $70 million, but today’s action increases the request to a total of $100 million for Armenia and Artsakh. The Armenian Assembly said that it “truly appreciates today’s action, and will continue working for further increases to Artsakh and Armenia.”
Four Members of Congress from Florida sit on the House Appropriations Committee: Rep. Charlie Crist (D-FL), Rep. Mario Diaz-Bolart (R-FL), Rep. Lois Frankel (D-FL), and Rep. Debbie Wasserman-Schultz (D-FL). Reps. Deutch and Crist are Members of the Congressional Caucus on Armenian Issues.
The Armenian Caucus initiative requests:
- $60 million for economic governance and rule of law assistance to Armenia through State Department and USAID accounts;
- $10 million for military aid for Armenia through Foreign Military Financing (FMF) and International Military and Education Training (IMET) programs;
- $20 million for Armenia to be a regional “safe haven” for refugees;
- $6 million for Artsakh de-mining, rehabilitation programs, and water supply systems;
- $4 million for implementation of the Royce-Engel peace proposals, including placement of OSCE-monitored, advanced gunfire locator systems;
- That the State Department and USAID lift any official or unofficial restrictions on U.S. travel, communication, or contacts with Artsakh government officials; and
- The suspension of U.S. military aid to Azerbaijan until it has been verified to have ceased all attacks against Armenia and Artsakh.
The letter states in part: “In the wake of the Republic of Armenia’s remarkable Velvet Revolution, we are writing to thank the Subcommittee for its longstanding leadership in support of both Armenia and the Republic of Artsakh (Nagorno Karabakh). As you prepare the Fiscal Year 2020 State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs Appropriations bill, we ask you to include… provisions supporting a broad-based strategic upgrade of a U.S.-Armenia partnership based upon shared interests and common values.”
The Members of Congress also called for stricter provisions of Section 907 of the FREEDOM Support Act to ensure that Azerbaijan does not take hostile actions against Armenia or Artsakh, as it did in the 2016 4-Day War, and pledge to demonstrate its commitment to pursuing lasting peace through solely non-violent means.
The letter concludes: “Taking these steps will continue to build on the U.S.-Armenia strategic relationship and help to grow the seeds of pro-democratic and civil society institutions in Armenia. We urge the Subcommittee to invest in peace and assist Armenia and Artsakh at this exciting time of continued development.”
“The Armenian Assembly welcomes this increased request in funding to Armenia. Given the remarkable democratic transformation last year in Armenia, we know that the community expects even more,” Assembly Executive Director Bryan Ardouny said. “Moreover, the OSCE’s Election Observation Mission Report stated that the elections ‘were held with respect for fundamental freedoms and enjoyed broad public trust that needs to be preserved through further electoral reforms.'”
Additionally, the Organization for Security and Co-Operation in Europe’s (OSCE) Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) reported that “election day proceeded calmly, peacefully, free of pressure on or intimidation of voters” and “the constitutionally guaranteed freedom of expression was respected.”
Earlier this month, Assembly Co-Chair Van Krikorian, in testimony before the House Appropriations Subcommittee, requested $100 million in democracy and economic assistance, at least $10 million in Foreign Military Financing (FMF) and International Military Education Training (IMET) to Armenia for Fiscal Year (FY) 2020, and $20 million to help resettle and provide a safe haven for Christians at risk in Syria and throughout the Middle East, with at least $25 million in assistance to Artsakh. Krikorian cited Armenia’s remarkable year as more than a reason to significantly increase humanitarian aid, suggesting to the Subcommittee that the United States should “reward people who have made progress towards democracy.”
Krikorian applauded the Subcommittee for holding the important hearing, and greatly appreciated “Chairwoman Nita Lowey’s leadership and steadfast support for Armenia and Artsakh.”
Given Turkey and Azerbaijan’s ongoing blockades, the Assembly’s written testimony also shed light on the importance of aid to Armenia and Artsakh, the need to fully enforce Section 907 of the FREEDOM Support Act, and targeted assistance for economic development and job-creation programs in the Samtskhe-Javakheti region of the Republic of Georgia.
The Armenian Assembly’s submitted testimony for FY 2020 is available online.