FILE – In this March 23, 2015 file photo, Sen. Robert Menendez, D-NJ speaks in Garwood, N.J. Menendez has been indicted on federal corruption charges.(AP Photo/Mel Evans, File)

WASHINGTON- Ranking Member of the US Foreign Relations Committee, Senator Menendez (D-N.J.) issued a statement on June 4, formally requesting that the Government Accountability Office (GAO) open a review of all U.S. aid provided to Azerbaijan in accordance with Section 907 of the Freedom Support Act.

US assistance to Azerbaijan has drastically increased in recent years, despite the regime’s rampant cease fire violations and blockade against Nagorno Karabakh (Artsakh). Section 907, a law passed in 1992, bans most aid to Azerbaijan until considerable measures are taken to cease all blockades and use of force against Artsakh.

Senator Menendez’s letter to Comptroller General Gene Dadaro of the GAO asks the independent agency, to assess the scope, nature and impact of the aid provided to the Azeri regime by the US government, in accordance to the Section 907 waiver. The Senator’s intent is to determine whether any of the aid was utilized to attack Armenia and Artsakh and to assess the impact of any ongoing negotiations for a peace agreement between Armenia and Azerbaijan.

In the letter, the Senator wrote: “Those memoranda [of justification for providing the waiver] gave no indication that the Administration has conducted a comprehensive assessment of whether assistance provided to the Government of Azerbaijan pursuant to the waiver has avoided the negative impacts mentioned in the certification, or an evaluation of any other impact from said assistance.”

Senator Menendez further stated: “Understanding the impact of assistance provided pursuant to the waiver is a prerequisite to evaluating whether it benefits U.S. national security and foreign policy interests or represents a prudent use of U.S. taxpayer dollars. This lack of information presents a serious challenge to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee’s ability to conduct oversight of U.S. assistance to the Government of Azerbaijan.”

In addition, Senator Menedez requested that the GAO begin their work immediately and provide the Senate Foreign Relations Committee with regular updates, including any roadblocks or challenges they potentially face.

“Senator Menendez’s request for the GAO’s investigation into the Azeri regime’s exploitation of American taxpayer dollars in the form of US aid is commendable,” said ACA Chairman Sevak Khatchadorian.

“The Armenian American community applauds the Senator for his patriotism, dedication to democracy and respect for the law and its virtues. The Azeri dictatorship has violated US law time and again and rather than having their aid cut for this violation, it has increased. It is clear that they have no intention of reaching a peace agreement with Armenia and Artsakh and are using the US government to advance their agenda of terror and bloodshed,” he added.

The Armenian Council of America is committed to promote the civic and civil rights interests of the Armenian American community, and to champion the causes and concerns of the Armenian-American community within local, state, and federal governments.

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