APRIL 22 (The Conway Bulletin) — The United States has decided to cut its so-called assistance budget to Armenia which funds various social programmes run by USAID, the overseas development arm of the US government, and its embassy.
The US defended the cuts by saying that dealing with the rise of the Islamic extremist group IS, the ebola epidemic in Africa and the civil war in Ukraine had placed extra pressure on its resources and that cuts had to be made.
“These reductions in funding for certain of our assistance programs in Armenia were necessitated by budgetary demands and additional global priorities, and in no way reflect the quality of the programs that have been implemented, or the strength of the US-Armenia relationship,” the Voice of Armenia website quoted a US embassy statement as saying on April 16.
Sceptics, though, said the US decision may be linked to Armenia joining the Kremlin-led Eurasian Economic Union in January, effectively turning its back on further integration with the West.
Turkey and Azerbaijan have also had their US assistance aid budget cut, although these two countries are far wealthier than Armenia and are less likely to feel the squeeze.
The US did not say by how much it would cut Armenia’s assistance budget although it said that since 1992, the US had given more than $2b to Armenia.
>>This story was first published on April 22 in issue 228 of the weekly Conway Bulletin newspaper. For more information on how to subscribe to the Central Asia and the South Caucasus’ best independent newspaper, click on the links above.