ANCA Confronts Bryza Bias on Nagorno Karabakh

ANCA Chairman Ken Hachikian wrote to Clinton

ANCA Chairman Ken Hachikian wrote to Clinton

WASHINGTON–Armenian National Committee of America Chairman Ken Hachikian today sent a letter to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton outlining the concerns of the Armenian American community regarding the recent biased remarks by Matt Bryza, the U.S. Co-Chair to the OSCE Minsk Group charged with helping to negotiate a settlement of the Nagorno Karabakh conflict.

The four-page letter, dated August 20, 2009, addressed, in detail, recent unfair, inaccurate, and counter-productive statements by Bryza, and, more broadly, expressed the view that his actions reflect the failings of an Administration that, having already broken a series of pledges to Armenian Americans, is now in the process of effectively handing over decision-making on U.S. policy on Armenian issues to the Turkish government: In the letter, Hachikian stressed: “Today, seven months after the start of the Obama-Biden Administration, we are seriously concerned that this Administration has abdicated its responsibilities by effectively outsourcing our nation’s foreign policy with respect to Armenian issues to the Republic of Turkey, as every single policy dealing with Armenia has been made along the lines that Turkey has dictated, rather than along the sound principles of morality and democracy that you, President Obama and Vice President Biden unambiguously articulated during your presidential campaigns last year.”

The complete text of the letter is provided below.

Dear Secretary Clinton,

I am writing on behalf of the Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA) to voice the Armenian American community’s grave concerns regarding recent unfair, inaccurate, and counter-productive statements by the U.S. Co-Chair of the OSCE Minks Group, Matthew Bryza, regarding the Republics of Armenia and Nagorno Karabakh.

Mr. Bryza’s recent actions as a part of the Obama-Biden Administration, as well as his past conduct during his time as Deputy Assistant Secretary, as U.S. Co-Chair of the OSCE Minsk Group, as a senior National Security Council staff member, and as an Eurasian energy advisor for the Department, reflect a pattern of consistent, material, and transparent bias against Armenia and Nagorno Karabakh. His behavior in the months since President Obama’s inauguration are especially troubling because they stand in such dramatic contrast to the public commitments that the President, Vice President, and that you made to the American electorate during the 2008 Presidential campaign.

As you may know, the ANCA has consistently registered public concerns regarding Mr. Bryza’s biased diplomacy on Armenia-related matters, including his pro-Azerbaijani bias in the Nagorno Karabakh peace process and his longstanding role as a promoter of U.S. complicity in Turkey’s denials of the Armenian Genocide. Our community’s attention was again drawn to his representation of our government’s policies following a speech he delivered, on August 7, 2009, in Tsakhkadzor, Armenia, as well as by news reports that he is being considered as a candidate to serve as our next Ambassador to Azerbaijan. In his remarks in Tsakhkadzor, Mr. Bryza, once again, made a number of statements that directly contradict the President’s pledge to work toward a “lasting and durable settlement of the Nagorno Karabakh conflict that is agreeable to all parties, and based upon America’s founding commitment to the principles of democracy and self determination.”

Most notably, Mr. Bryza has argued that the fatally flawed Madrid principles are a balanced set of concessions, when, at their heart, they represent nothing more than a major, irreversible, up-front concession of fundamental security on the part of the Armenian side with only a vague promise that some undefined process, involving undetermined actors, will take place regarding Nagorno Karabakh’s status, according to his own words, “at some point” in the future. The President of Azerbaijan, Ilham Aliyev, has made it painfully clear that he will not even honor this weakly worded and effectively meaningless expectation. President Aliyev has chosen to reserve his public comments for threats of renewed aggression and assurances that, even if Armenia were to surrender territories, “it may take a year, maybe 10 years, maybe 100 years, or it will never be possible” to reach the point where Azerbaijan would consent to a mere “discussion” of Nagorno Karabakh’s status.

This “compromise” is not a fair deal, but rather a one-sided surrender of Nagorno Karabakh’s rights, status, and security, in large measure, engineered by Mr. Bryza. This settlement, which would cement Armenia into profound strategic and military disadvantages and ensure continued regional instability, is, at present, being imposed upon the Armenian people through the full force and leverage of the U.S. government.

In his remarks, Mr. Bryza compounded his biased defense of these flawed principles by falsely claiming that the Azerbaijani side has made a “concession” by agreeing to merely discuss the matter of Nagorno Karabakh’s self-determination. The fact is that Azerbaijan has neither the moral right nor the practical ability to grant either freedom or independence to Nagorno Karabakh. He also, during the question and answer period, assigned to the people of Nagorno Karabakh a second-tier right to self-determination, one that requires the assent of Azerbaijan, as opposed to the right to independence enjoyed today by the people of Kosovo and recognized officially by the U.S. government despite the objections of Serbia.

Also of profound concern in Mr. Bryza’s comments at Tsakhkadzor was his false assertion that Nagorno Karabakh’s exclusion from the OSCE Minsk Group peace process was driven by Armenia’s request to the others parties to the negotiations. This is simply not the case.

In addition to the concerns I have outlined regarding Mr. Bryza’s recent comments, we remain seriously troubled that he has continued to stand in the way of broad-based dialogue between the governments and peoples of the U.S. and Nagorno Karabakh. In his capacity as OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chair, instead of promoting open communication, he has enforced a set of outdated and counter-productiverestrictions that block the hope for greater mutual understanding. He has, as well, even as recently as the current foreign aid cycle, failed to facilitate desperately needed U.S. development assistance programs in Nagorno Karabakh. Finally, he has undermined his own credibility by making the patently false claim that neither he nor his State Department colleagues have applied pressure to Armenia regarding the settlement of Nagorno Karabakh.

The concerns I have raised regarding the one-sided Nagorno Karabakh diplomacy that Mr. Bryza has conducted on behalf of the U.S. government reflect our community’s broader disappointment regarding the Obama-Biden Administration’s failure to honor its many pledges on Armenian issues. Foremost among these, of course, is the President’s broken promise to recognize the Armenian Genocide. Rather than upholding this crystal clear covenant, the Administration has, instead, aggressively attacked the spirit and letter of this commitment by promoting Turkey’s artificial “roadmap” and pressuring Armenia to accept a “historical commission” that, in yet another transparent attempt by Ankara to perpetuate its campaign of genocide denial, calls into question the veracity of the Armenian Genocide. The Administration has, in addition, sharply cut economic and other aid to Armenia, despite the President’s pledge to maintain assistance levels. This pattern of behavior represents a breach of faith with Armenian Americans, fundamentally damages our government’s friendship with Armenia, and effectively eliminates our country’s ability to act as an honest broker in the region.

Today, seven months after the start of the Obama-Biden Administration, we are seriously concerned that this Administration has abdicated its responsibilities by effectively outsourcing our nation’s foreign policy with respect to Armenian issues to the Republic of Turkey, as every single policy dealing with Armenia has been made along the lines that Turkey has dictated, rather than along the sound principles of morality and democracy that you, President Obama and Vice President Biden unambiguously articulated during your presidential campaigns last year.

Thank you for your consideration of our views. We respectfully request an immediate personal meeting between you and the Armenian American community’s civic, religious, and charitable leaders so that we can address these matters in greater detail.

Kenneth V. Hachikian


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  1. K.Sarkissian said:

    Thank you .Very well presented and delivered.Paper promises mean nothing.Mutual and equal give and take is essential in negotiations.Simultaneous concrete steps should be taken.Not mere promises for the future.
    Kosovo model is accurate.

  2. Tsoghig said:

    Excellent article. Thank God we have the ANCA to stand up for Armenian American and Armenians everywhere. Bryza should be fired from the state department.

  3. Gayane said:

    Mr Ken Hachikian wrote it beautifully.. I could not put it any better..

    It covered every single point that is a sore in every Armenian heart. I am not only deeply regret that the ARmenian Americans put faith in Obama and his administration for making things right.. but in return, everything that is happening is going south.. Obama Administration is siding with Turkey and Azerbadjian..It is very evident, they do not have any intention to fix the issues that are currently facing ARmenia.

    It is absolutely saddening to believe that one government that is preaching democracy, morality, and justic supporting govertnments that have NONE of that… Obama Administration needs to walk the talk and not just talk the talk..

    Thank you Mr. Hachikian and the ANCA for standing up for ARmenian Americans and that is the reason I am an advocate of these types of organizations and that is why I will continue to support with every mean that I have.



  4. Gary Artinian said:

    Great article. This should be followed by other media articles exposing the true US policy regarding southern Caucasus. Bryza should be subjected to the same fate that Mr Richard Hoagland was. Armenia should insist on bringing Karabakh on to the negotiating table of Osce Minsk group. Neither Bryza, nor his bosses, have the right to bargain with Karabakh’s independence. After all they didn’t with Kosovo.

  5. Armanen said:

    It’s not that Bryza is the one who is making these statements one his own, he is following through with U.S. policy on Armenia and the wider region. Armenian-Americans need to realize that the Executive branch of the U.S. cares more about turkey than Armenia, always has. So the problem is not with bryza, the problem is with the whole executive branch and specifically the foreign policy.

  6. Artin said:

    I’m afraid nothing will be gained from this letter. Maybe one day Armenians will realize that the only way to help Armenia is to focus all efforts on Armenian nation building rather than squandering their efforts on American politicians who serve other masters. The letter is well written but nothing will come of it besides making some short sighted Armenians happy that their ANCA is doing so much for them. Good work guys, keep up the pressure, but don’t expect this to be the engine of change.

  7. Greg said:

    Sound and effective statement. We need to rally around to support this stand against Anti-armenian initiatives, exploring the weaknesse of the Governmebt of the Armenia. Armenians need to push. Stress the Kosovo.
    As for Bryza – perhaps it is better him to be confined in Baku, rather than creating harm in some other chambers in DC.

  8. Henry Dumanian said:

    You know what’s wrong with this letter? It’s from Ken Hachikian instead of Serzh Sarkisian. We clearly don’t have the political clout (yet) to challenge Bryza from this side of the ocean…Clinton could ignore this entire letter by saying one thing: “The Armenian president thinks its fine.”

  9. Ron said:

    Yes, indeed, well said. My friends, I believe we should use all channels and means to change the course of the negotiations on Artsakh. One important and critical step, in my opinion, is exposing the illegal actions of the Turkish Lobby of bribery and blackmail of several US Congressmen. By doing so, we will hopefully expose the true motives of the Turkish government. If you haven’t already seen it, I strongly recommend watching the video on this site under the article entitled “FBI Insider Links Turkish Lobby to Bribery and Blackmail” as revealed by Sibel Edmonds, former Dept. of Justice employee. I suggest emailing this video to every official, US Congressmen, US Dept. of State, and others to get the word out. I am sure someone has already compiled the contact information of all that should see this video.

  10. Hovsep Movsessian said:

    In light of President Obama’s promises to recognition Armenian Genocide by I sent a $25.00 donation for his campaign, which I regret doing it; how can I ask him to refund my donation I think this would be the most effective way to bring his attention to the false promises that he made to Armenian community.
    If you provide me an email address I’ll send my refund request to him.
    With best regards,
    Glendale, California

  11. sophia said:

    With all due respect, but it’s very simplistic to believe that US foreign policy in the Caucasus is based on the decisions of one person. It’s about geo-strategic interests, not about personal bias.

  12. Vrej said:

    Nicely summarized Mr. Hachikian. I think we ought to become more aggressive as Armenians. Our adversaries surely do behave in a wild manner. We should threaten to boycott to vote in the next US election and also threaten to ally with Iran if the United States does not change its stance. We should also threaten continued belligerence, aggression, war, even terrorism to Baku. Let them know that violence is not only a Muslim’s means to achieve goals. Unfortunately what raises attention in the world today is the behavior of the crazy person. Look at Ahmadinejad’s comments; we need a similar response.

  13. Armenian said:

    I should agree here. Thanks ANCA for its efforts. This should be persisted. Take the example of Israel.
    Still I wonder when would come the day when sites like this will not exist anymore:

  14. Vahé M. said:

    I’m very disappointed with the Obama administration and its policy towards Armenia and Artsakh. I will not be voting for Obama a second time unless I see some kind of about-face.

  15. Serge said:

    Very well said. I think we need to send more letter like this to pressure the administration, so they know we are not agreeing to thier policy towards Armenia and Artsakh and we are very well awake and aware of thier policy and we are watching them like a hawk.

  16. Manooshag said:

    Thanks to all of our ANCA (Armenian National Committee of America) for their continued pursuit of our covenant for all those we lost to the Ottoman Turkish Genocide of the Armenian nation on their own lands of over 3,000 years. Even further, our covenant to all our survivors who lived their lives with memories of the vile acts of the Turkish Genocide. We can never forget…
    The Ottoman Turks perpetrated the Armenian Genocide but the subsequent Turkish leaderships, into today, spending millions upon millions to continue to their ‘denials'(another ‘ploy’) yet, even against twenty (20) of the world civilized nations, forty-four (44) of the 50 states of the United States of America, the International Genocide organizations, the Vatican. Turkey is also in denials of all the many Archives which exist in civilized nations of the world (including Washington DC – State Department take note). Archives which bear witness to the horrors inflicted upon the Christian Armenians,
    The Turks had decided Armenia was the land to become the ‘homeland’ for the hordes who came down from the mountains of Asia… all lands/culture of the Armenians were to become as theirs – Turkish, until today. Turkey, excelling in ‘ploys,’ agrees to a ‘roadmap’ with Armenia (knowing it shall not abide). Turkey in all the years since the Armenian Genocide has agreements with the West – knowingly not to be pursued.. Turkey labels itself as a ‘democracy’ – is it? Turks’ own citizens are abused. Turks, as in the children’s fairy tale of ‘The Emperor’s Clothes’ – they just ain’t. Are they?

  17. Vahe said:

    I think such a conversation should come from our govermant and not from a organisation. Armenians have since almost 20 years a goverment and we are not used to that. Normaly you give your vote to your polititions and thay take care of international govermental relatives. So I prefer that our President or our FM writes such a letters to Mrs. Clinton becuse thay are more informed about the politics and belateral relations. We have to trust them, we have to trust our goverment and if not, then we should vote for a new one. But as long as thay are at this job, thay should take care of it.