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66 Members of Congress Push for Expanded US-Armenia Relations

Florida Reps. Gus Bilirakis (R-FL) and Ted Deutch (D-FL) Cosign Letter

WASHINGTON, DC – This week, Armenian Caucus Founder and Co-Chair Congressman Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ) led an appropriations letter for fiscal year 2022 (FY22) that requests funding for a robust humanitarian assistance package, including de-mining activities in Artsakh, and funding for economic development, governance, and resources to fight the COVID-19 pandemic. The letter also requests a suspension of U.S. military aid to Azerbaijan until it ends its aggression toward Armenia and Artsakh. The letter was signed by 66 Members of Congress including Florida Reps. Gus Bilirakis (R-FL), Co-Chair of the Armenian Caucus, and House Ethics Committee Chairman Ted Deutch (D-FL), an active member of the Armenian Caucus.

“The United States is uniquely positioned to help Armenia that has been shaken by last year’s war in Artsakh and the resulting uncertainty. Providing significant economic assistance to Armenia will help make its people more secure, bolster its democracy, help sustain economic development, stabilize its civil society, and aid its response to the COVID-19 pandemic and, most urgently, alleviate the ongoing humanitarian crisis in Artsakh,” Pallone said. “This investment will strengthen the U.S.-Armenia relationship, help Armenia rebuild, and solidify democracy in the region.”

Specifically, the letter to the House Appropriations Subcommittee on State, Foreign Operations and Related Programs calls for:

  • Robust funding to directly aid the Armenian people of Nagorno-Karabakh to recover and rebuild. Such aid would be utilized for urgently needed housing, food security, water and sanitation projects, medical and refugee assistance, rehabilitation programs, and infrastructure needs.
  • $2 million for Conventional Weapons Destruction programs in Nagorno-Karabakh.
  • $100 million for economic, governance, rule of law, and security assistance to Armenia through State Department and USAID accounts.
  • The suspension of all U.S. security assistance for Azerbaijan until it has been verified to have ceased all attacks against Armenia and Artsakh.

Artsakh is enduring an ongoing humanitarian crisis resulting from the unprovoked Azerbaijani and Turkish attack in Artsakh on September 27, 2020, which led to six weeks of devastating fighting that killed over 5,000 people and forced more than 100,000 ethnic Armenians to flee their homes. During and after the Azerbaijan-Turkish attack on Nagorno Karabakh, several videos surfaced online of Azeri soldiers beheading elderly Armenian villagers, mutilating dead bodies, and torturing Armenian soldiers and prisoners of war – over 200 of which are still being held captive by Azerbaijan in violation of international law.

Joining the leadership of the Congressional Caucus on Armenian Issues – Representatives Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ), Gus Bilirakis (R-FL), Jackie Speier (D-CA), David Valadao (D-CA), and Adam Schiff (D-CA) – as cosigners of the letter were Reps. Jake Auchincloss (D-MA), Nanette Diaz Barragán (D-CA), Karen Bass (D-CA), Donald Beyer, Jr. (D-VA), Cheri Bustos (D-IL), Salud Carbajal (D-CA), Tony Cárdenas (D-CA), Joaquin Castro (D-TX), Judy Chu (D-CA), David Cicilline (D-RI), Jim Costa (D-CA), Diana DeGette (D-CO), Ted Deutch (D-FL), Anna Eshoo (D-CA), Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA), Lizzie Fletcher (D-TX), John Garamendi (D-CA), Jimmy Gomez (D-CA), Josh Gottheimer (D-NJ), Brian Higgins (D-NY), Steven Horsford (D-NV), Chrissy Houlahan (D-PA), Jared Huffman (D-CA), Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX), Bill Johnson (R-OH), Ro Khanna (D-CA), Dan Kildee (D-MI), Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-IL), James Langevin (D-RI), Andy Levin (D-MI), Mike Levin (D-CA), Ted Lieu (D-CA), Zoe Lofgren (D-CA), Alan Lowenthal (D-CA), Stephen Lynch (D-MA), Carolyn Maloney (D-NY), James McGovern (D-MA), Seth Moulton (D-MA), Grace Napolitano (D-CA), Donald Norcross (D-NJ), Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC), Devin Nunes (R-CA), Ilhan Omar (D-MN), Chris Pappas (D-NH), Donald Payne, Jr. (D-NJ), Chellie Pingree (D-ME), Katie Porter (D-CA), Kathleen Rice (D-NY), Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-CA), Linda Sánchez (D-CA), John Sarbanes (D-MD), Jan Schakowsky (D-IL), Brad Schneider (D-IL), Brad Sherman (D-CA), Albio Sires (D-NJ), Abigail Spanberger (D-VA), Haley Stevens (D-MI), Thomas Suozzi (D-NY), Dina Titus (D-NV), Paul Tonko (D-NY), and Susan Wild (D-PA).

Schumer on Anticipated Armenian Genocide Recognition by President Biden: It’s a Long Time Coming

WASHINGTON, DC – On Thursday multiple lawmakers issued statements of praise for President Joe Biden following reports that he plans to officially recognize the killing of more than 1.5 million Armenian people by the Ottoman Turkish Empire more than a century ago as a genocide.

The statement by Biden, expected to come on or before Armenian Genocide Remembrance Day on Saturday, April 24, 2021, which marks the 106th anniversary of the start of the years-long attacks against Armenians by the Ottoman Turkish Empire, which began during World War I and lasted until 1922. Biden would be the first U.S. president to officially recognize the Armenian Genocide, though President Reagan made a reference to the genocide once in 1981 when discussing the Holocaust.

Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Menendez (D-NJ)

Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Menendez (D-NJ), who last month led a bipartisan coalition of 38 Senators calling on Biden to officially recognize the genocide, said in a statement Thursday that he was “honored and incredibly moved” by the president’s “reported decision to end over a century of official erasure of one of the darkest events in human history.”

“After three decades of leading this fight in Congress, I am proud the U.S. government is poised to finally be able to say it without any euphemism: genocide is genocide,” Menendez added. “Plain and simple.” marks the 106th anniversary of the start of the years-long attacks against Armenians by the Ottoman Empire, which began during World War I and lasted until 1922.

Menendez added Thursday that he was “deeply grateful for and inspired by the Armenian American community’s persistence in ensuring the Armenian genocide is recognized as an irrefutable fact of history — accepted by the United States and the rest of the world.”

“Having the full U.S. government affirm the facts of the Armenian Genocide will send a strong signal that the truth and human rights, not ignorance and denial, shape our foreign policy,” the New Jersey senator added.

Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-NY), who was also one of the senators to sign on to last month’s letter to Biden, took to the Senate floor and expressed his satisfaction, “It’s come to my attention that President Biden intends to have the United States formally recognize the Armenian Genocide, becoming the first sitting U.S. President to do so. Great news. It’s a long time coming and a step that I have called on Presidents of both parties to take. Each year, I gather with Armenian Americans in Times Square to commemorate the annual anniversary of this atrocity, and every year, my heartbreaks for the victims of the genocide and their descendants. There are very few left but some very elderly people are sitting in the audience each year reminding us how painful and how real that genocide was.”

Senator Schumer concluded his remarks by criticizing the Turkish governments continued denialist policy, “The Turkish Government’s idea of saying there was no Genocide just defies history. I have seen the victims. I have talked to the victims. And so, this Saturday, which marks the 106th Anniversary of the Armenian Genocide, and I am so relieved, grateful, and moved that we can finally commemorate the anniversary with the knowledge that the Government of the United States, led by Joseph Robinette Biden, has recognized the truth of the Armenian Genocide at last.”

WATCH: Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer’s remarks on the Senate floor. Thursday, April 22, 2021.

“Armenian Americans across the country share the joy and enthusiasm expressed by Senate Majority Leader Schumer today at the reports that the White House will once and for all recognize the Armenian Genocide. We are forever grateful to Leader Schumer for his genuine friendship with Armenia and her global citizens who have tried to heal and have our story recognized for the last 106 years. We are also humbled at the leadership of Chairman Menendez for his tireless, unwavering efforts to bring the U.S. Senate, as well as our Executive Branch under President Joe Biden, to the forefront of leading nations in the world to recognize the historical truth of 1915.” stated FLArmenians.com Editor Taniel Koushakjian.

Florida Armenians Welcome New Armenian Ambassador to the United States

Taniel Koushakjian with H.E. Varuzhan Nersessian, Ambassador of the Republic of Armenia to the U.S., at the Embassy of Armenia in Washington, DC – February 4, 2019

WASHINGTON, DC – In February, Florida Armenians Editor Taniel Koushakjian travelled to the nation’s capital for a series of meetings with government officials, NGO’s, and policy makers. During his time, he met with Armenia’s new Ambassador to the U.S., His Excellency Varuzhan Nersesyan, and welcomed him back to the United States in his new capacity. They discussed a series of issues of concern to the Armenian American community.

Koushakjian conveyed the congratulations of several thousand Armenian Americans in Florida who cheered the democratic movement of the citizens of Armenia and the peaceful transition of power that swept across Armenia in 2018. He also invited Ambassador Nersesyan to visit the Sunshine State in 2020.

Ambassador Nersesyan is no stranger to Washington, DC. From April 2008 to December 2012, he served as Deputy Chief of Mission at the Embassy of the Republic of Armenia to the United States.

President of the United States Donald J. Trump accepts the credentials of the Ambassador of the Republic of Armenia to the U.S. His Excellency Varuzhan Nersesyan in the Oval Office, The White House, Washington, DC – January 11, 2019

Nersesyan is the first Armenian Ambassador to the U.S. under Armenian President Nikol Pashinyan. He presented his credentials to the President of the United States Donald J. Trump in a ceremony in the Oval Office on January 11, 2019. During a brief conversation, President Trump and Ambassador Nersesyan highlighted the steps towards expanding the US-Armenia bilateral relationship in several areas. The interlocutors emphasized the role of the Armenian American community in enhancing the friendship between the two nations.