Senate Committee to Consider Turkey Ambassador Nominee Tuesday

U.S. Ambassador to Turkey nominee Francis Ricciardone

WASHINGTON—The Senate Foreign Relations Committee has announced that it will hold a confirmation hearing on Tuesday, July 20th for President Obama’s nominee, Francis Ricciardone, to serve as the next U.S. Ambassador to Ankara, reported the Armenian National Committee of America.

“Ambassador Ricciardone’s confirmation process provides members of the Foreign Relations Committee a rare and vital opportunity at a pivotal moment in U.S.-Turkey relations to really explore whether the Administration’s seemingly endless willingness to defer to Turkey—on human rights, regional security, and genocide denial—truly serves U.S. interests and American values,” said Aram Hamparian, Executive Director of the ANCA.

The short gap of only two weeks between the President’s July 1st announcement of the Ricciardone nomination and the scheduling of a Senate confirmation hearing would seem to indicate an effort by the White House to expedite this process.  Ricciardone was a last minute addition to the July 20th confirmation hearing announced earlier this week, which is set to be chaired by Sen. John Kerry.  The Foreign Relations Committee has yet to announce a date for the confirmation hearing for the President’s nominee to serve as U.S. envoy in Baku, Matt Bryza.

Several neo-conservative groups have voiced their reservations with Ambassador Ricciardone’s appointment.  Foreign policy blog, The Cable, has reported that Ricciardone’s “tenure as George W. Bush’s envoy to Egypt provoked the most criticism, particularly among neoconservatives who are hoping to persuade Republican senators to torpedo his nomination.”  

Ambassador Ricciardone, a career member of the Foreign Service, has served as U.S. Ambassador to Egypt and the Phillippines, and has had two tours of duty in Turkey, most recently, between 1995 and 1999, as Deputy Chief of Mission and Charge d’Affaires.  He speaks Turkish and several other languages.  If approved, he would replace Ambassador James Jeffries, whose confirmation hearing to serve as the next U.S. Ambassador to Iraq will be held the same day.

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