Senate Should Scrutinize Bryza Before Confirming him as Ambassador to Baku

BY HARUT SASSOUNIAN

After a lengthy delay, Azerbaijan consented last week to the appointment of Matthew Bryza as U.S. Ambassador to Baku, an unnamed American official told EurasiaNet.org. The California Courier confirmed Bryza’s nomination through its own Washington sources. The White House is expected to shortly issue an official announcement.

It is noteworthy that there has not been an American Ambassador in Azerbaijan since last July. When John Evans was recalled as Ambassador to Armenia in 2006 for using the term Armenian Genocide, the Bush administration pressured the Senate to quickly confirm his successor, claiming that the United States urgently needed an Ambassador in that country. Surprisingly, there has not been a similar sense of urgency in Washington, during the year-long absence of a U.S. Ambassador from Azerbaijan! Pres. Aliyev must have viewed this holdup as a snub to his country.

Until 2009, Matthew Bryza served as Deputy Assistant Secretary of State and U.S. Co-Chair of the Minsk Group negotiators on the Karabagh (Artsakh) conflict. Interestingly, he was dubbed by colleagues as “Baby DAS” (Deputy Assistant Secretary) for his swift promotion, despite his youthful age and limited diplomatic experience.

The delay in his appointment to Baku could be attributed to Azerbaijan’s misgivings concerning Bryza and discontent with recent U.S. foreign policy initiatives. During the course of his upcoming Senate confirmation, Bryza should be questioned regarding his past actions and recent tensions between Azerbaijan and the United States.

Here are some questions that members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee should consider asking Bryza during his nomination process:

— Why did it take so long for Azerbaijan to consent to your appointment? What complaints did Azerbaijan have against you and against U.S. foreign policy in the region? What assurances were given by the United States to Azerbaijan to allay its concerns before consenting to your appointment?

— Despite your and Minsk Group’s persistent efforts to resolve the Karabagh conflict, Armenia and Azerbaijan are still far from reaching a peace agreement. What do you think are the remaining obstacles to resolving this conflict? Given your expertise in this region, what steps would you take as U.S. Ambassador to secure Azerbaijan’s consent to a peaceful resolution of the Karabagh conflict rather than resorting to war?

— Pres. Aliyev has been pressuring Turkey not to lift its blockade of Armenia. How would you dissuade Azerbaijan from undermining Armenia-Turkey relations?

— Given the absence of democratic norms in Azerbaijan, known for forged elections, lack of media freedom, and repressive measures against opposition parties and minorities, how would you persuade Azerbaijan’s leaders to establish rule of law?

— What messages did you convey to Georgia’s leadership prior to the Georgia-Russia war of 2008? Is there any truth to reports that you had advised the Georgians that the United States would intervene militarily in case of an attack by Russia?

— Do you believe you can carry out your diplomatic duties professionally and objectively, given your wife’s outspoken views on Armenian, Azeri and Turkish issues? [Bryza married Zeyno Baran, a Turkish-born foreign policy analyst at the Hudson Institute. Their wedding took place at the former home of the prominent Balian family of architects on an island near Istanbul. It was attended by Azerbaijan’s Foreign Minister Elmar Mammadyarov and high-ranking Turkish, Georgian, and American officials].

— Did you have any role in the recall and premature retirement of Amb. John Evans? Do you think that an Ambassador should be fired simply for using the term Armenian Genocide? What are your own views on the Armenian Genocide? Do you think it is appropriate for Pres. Obama to break his campaign promise to acknowledge the Armenian Genocide?

— In a letter to Secretary Clinton, the Armenian National Committee of America accused you of not being impartial on “Armenia-related matters,” harboring a “pro-Azerbaijani bias in the Nagorno Karabagh peace process,” and advocating “U.S. complicity in Turkey’s denials of the Armenian Genocide.” What assurances can you give the American people that you would fairly and objectively carry out your diplomatic duties in Azerbaijan as the official representative of the United States?

The members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee should closely scrutinize Bryza’s nomination to ensure that, if confirmed, he represents U.S. interests in Baku, and not the other way around, since both he and his wife, Zeyno Baran, have had extensive ties with both Turkey and Azerbaijan. In her 2005 Senate testimony, Baran expressed her opposition to the congressional resolution on the Armenian Genocide, while her husband, Bryza, told a reporter that Turkey was his “second home.”

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10 Comments

  1. Alex Postallian said:

    Bryza a jew,wife a turk,the worse combination for the Armenian cause in Azerbaijan.He has been a supporter for YELLOW STAIN turkey for years.

  2. Dominique Martine said:

    When will the USA start to understand the world and its culture? Why provoke the situation? Its like nominating a pro Nazi to the Israeli State. It so sad that there is no research or background understanding by our government in overseas situations. Rather not send anyone .
    we have so many problems in our country that the Congress doesn’t address or use their resources to understand why send any diplomate abroad. Send Bryza to handle the immigration issues around America and act like you care about us at home. We don’t have money to send people abroad. We need everything here.

  3. Edward said:

    Before or after scrutinizing Briza the senate should give him enough Retrovil as the drug is very expensive and hard to find in Azeristan.

  4. manooshag said:

    Turkey chooses Bryaz, Obama chooses Bryaz… obviously, the ‘follow the leader’ game…
    Oh,but who be the leader?
    Manooshag

  5. Pingback: Matt Bryza nominated by President Obama as U.S. Ambassador to Azerbaijan, the Wrong Person for Armenia « Armenia Homeland Fight for Survival

  6. Pingback: ANCA Urges Close Senate Scrutiny Of Obama Nomination Of Bryza as US Ambassador to Azerbaijan | Asbarez Armenian News

  7. manooshag said:

    Hye, bryza, obviously the wrong ‘statesman’ in the wrong place… He is not of the caliber of a John Evans – clearly as all recognize… his double-speak has been an ‘education’ in the decline of the USA foreign policies representation – how truths shall be deterred, how truths shall be ‘interred’…
    Manooshag

  8. Ishkhan Babajanian MD said:

    LETTER WRITTEN TO PRESIDENT BUSH STATE DEPARTMENT SECRETARY CANDALISA RICE (ON OCT. 15. 2008) REGARDING MR. MATTHEW BRYZA ‘S DEFICIENCIES WHEN HE WAS US CO-CHAIR OF THE MINSK GROUP.

    MR. BRYZA’S BIASED RECORD IN N. KARABAKH CONFLICT SHOULD DISQUALIFIED HIM FOR AMBASSADORIAL JOB IN SOUTH CAUCASUS.
    ———————————————————————————————–

    LETTER WRITTEN TO US STATE DEPT. ON OCT. 15, 2008
    —————————————————————————————————
    US Dept. Dear Madam Secretary Candalisa Rice and Mr. Mathew Bryza. 1.5 million Armenian-American US taxpayers plus 6 million Armenian all over the world are very disappointed and angry for Mr. Mathew Bryza’s strange and biased announcement regarding Nagorno-Karabakh(Artsakh) conflict. He is acting very irresponsibly and making a tense situation even worse.

    We think he has no any historical knowledge about that region or people living there..

    Mr. Bryza you should know that more than a century Turks and later Azeris and Bolsheviks persecuted, oppressed and massacred Armenian people. There is centuries animosty between MuslemTurks, Azeris and Christian Armenians.Therefore it’s impossible that Karabakh(Artsakh) people will accept Azebaijani rule once again. Since Karabakh/Artsakh is a life and death issue for all Armenians I assure you that there will be a blood bath in Karabakh which will spread all over region if Azerbaijani regain Stalin created old borders.

    With all respect this young and inexperienced diplomate sometimes makes such unusual statements to make Turks happy But he is not realize that this kind announcements can create more problems in that region and will harm peace process intensifying an already volatile situation. At least he doesn’t even consider US Ambassador’s recent statement for Karabakh’s “self determination”

    Everyone (ncluding Mr.Bryza) should know and undersatand that N.Karabakh is our ancestral and bibilical land and it belong to their rightful historical owners. Armenians shed blood in Karabakh and they will never ever give up Karabakh back to Azerbaijan. If coerced into such a situation 7.5 million Armenians with one voice (and power) will fight to preserve Karabakh’s /Artsakh’s independence and freedom. In addition Armenians are never forget nor forgive such action, whoever is responsible for it.
    We beg you if you don’t care about justice, prejudice and/or massacre of this suffering Christian nation’s past history. at least don’t put US and the West oil Interests in jeopardy or ruin your legacy…

    Thank you

    Ishkhan Babajanian MD.

    USA

    Oct.15,200

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