Obama Circumvents Senate to Appoint Bryza as US Ambassador to Azerbaijan

White House Uses “Recess Appointment” to Send Envoy to Baku without Senate Confirmation

WASHINGTON– Despite Senate opposition, driven by Democratic Senators Barbara Boxer (D-CA) and Robert Menendez (D-NJ), President Barack Obama on Wednesday announced that he is making a recess appointment of Matt Bryza as U.S. Ambassador to Azerbaijan, reported the Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA).

The President’s action, in the final days of the 111th Congress, comes despite serious concerns regarding Bryza’s unusually close and controversial ties to Azerbaijani government officials, his deeply troubling track record as a senior diplomat dealing with the Caucasus, and persistent conflict of interest issues related to the Caspian energy industry.

“Armenian Americans are deeply troubled by President Obama’s decision today to circumvent the U.S. Senate and use a recess appointment to send a deeply flawed diplomat to represent America in Azerbaijan” said ANCA Executive Director Aram Hamparian.

“The President’s push to send Matt Bryza to Baku without Senate approval represents a disservice to American diplomacy that will, sadly, undermine our nation’s ability to advance our interests and values in the Caucasus region.”

“President Obama, whose Administration only a week ago helped kill the Armenian Genocide Resolution in the U.S. House, has again demonstrated an utter disregard for his own campaign commitments on issues ranging from the Armenian Genocide and Nagorno Karabagh to U.S. aid and trade with Armenia.”

Bryza, who had served as Organization of Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) Mink Group Co-Chair, charged with mediating the Nagorno Karabakh conflict from 2006 through 2009, was nominated for U.S. Ambassador to Azerbaijan in May of 2010. The Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA) opposed his nomination, issuing a 10-page report citing issues ranging from conflict of interest concerns to his prolonged inaction in the face of the Azerbaijani Government’s destruction of the 13th Century Armenian cemetery in Djulfa, and his inordinately close ties to the dictatorial Aliyev Administration.

Following his Senate confirmation hearing this July, Bryza was asked to respond to several rounds of written questions from Senators regarding his track record in the region. After reviewing his testimony, written responses, and reviewing his diplomatic record, Senators Barbara Boxer and Robert Menendez placed a “hold” on Mr. Bryza’s nomination, effectively blocking a vote on his nomination by the full Senate.

In her remarks during the Senate Foreign Relations Committee vote on his candidacy, Senator Boxer explained that she voted against the Bryza nomination because he had not demonstrated the willingness or the ability to meaningfully confront Azerbaijan’s aggression. “Despite my appreciation for Mr. Bryza’s long service as a Foreign Service Officer, I don’t believe he is the right person for this position,” explained Senator Boxer. “What concerns me is that Mr. Bryza has demonstrated a pattern of unwillingness to speak out forcefully in the face of increasing Azerbaijani aggression against Nagorno Karabakh.”

Senator Menendez, who has played a constructive role in reviewing the Bryza confirmation process, noted that he had “serious reservations about the U.S. ambassador nominee to Azerbaijan,” citing Bryza’s inaction in the face of Azerbaijan’s desecration of the Djulfa cemetery close personal ties to regional leaders, and therefore about his ability to act as an unbiased representative of the United States in Azerbaijan.

Even Senators voting in favor of Bryza expressed worries about his nomination. The panel’s Chairman, John Kerry (D-MA), stated that he appreciated the concerns raised by Senators Menendez and Boxer and anticipated continued Senate scrutiny. Sen. Russ Feingold (D-WI) issued a statement following the vote, stating that he found concerns raised by constituents and others “troubling, particularly Mr. Bryza’s relationship with the Azerbaijan Government.”

“Sadly, President Obama chose not to take advantage of the opportunity presented by Senators Boxer and Menendez to get U.S. diplomacy toward Azerbaijan and the region off to a fresh start, without an ambassadorial nominee with a record of bias and extensive baggage,” added Hamparian.

With a hold in place, the Senate returned his nomination to the White House, which then opened up the possibility for a recess appointment. In addition to Bryza, President Obama, also today, issued recess appointments for the U.S. ambassadors to Turkey, Syria and the Czech Republic.

According to Article II, Section 2 of the U.S. Constitution, “The President shall have Power to fill up all Vacancies that may happen during the Recess of the Senate, by granting Commissions which shall expire at the End of their next Session.” The Senate will have the opportunity to review this decision in approximately one year.

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41 Comments

  1. Realist said:

    Another vivid example that this president like the ones before him is guided by the real politics. As soon as hey set foot to the oval office and seat on the thrown they realize who is in charge and who’s orders they are there to administer. This of course is the corporate rulers of the country and their financial economic interests no doubt. The rest is just talk, and this is a reality.
    Why waste time energy and money to educate to support and to appease to any candidate to any party for any seat. After all the Armenian Americans have to maintain and keep their moral and dignity and not waste it on this sort of loosing propositions. Look what happened with the Pelosi and the Democrat ruled congress, what happened with the president …
    I really think that ANC should shift gears and concentrate and organize global Pan Armenian institution that will defend the rights of the Armenian people in the International criminal courts.
    I think its enough being used by all this opportunists who spend 100 of millions of dollars to be elected to an office that pays less the 200 thousand a year. It’s a sad joke really…

    • ST. ECHMIADZIN said:

      I AGREE . LET’S BOYCOTT ALL THE ELECTIONS EXCEPT LOCAL ONES. LET’S NOT CALL OBAMA EVER AGAIN , AND IGNORE THEM ALL.

      • Araxi said:

        Both democrats & republicans are serving satan.
        Armenians are God sent, therefore no satanic party or persons would take care of Armenians or the Armenian cause.
        Հայեր Ջանշ միացեք և ուժեղացրեք Մեր Հայրենիքը, ՀԱՅԱՍՏԱՆ ԱՇԽԱՐՀԸ:
        ՇՆՈՐՀԱՎՈՐ ՆՈՐ ՏԱՐԻՆ և ՍՈՒՐԲ ԾՆՈՒՆԴ ՀԻՍՈՒՍ ՔՐԻՍՏՈՍԻ:
        ԱՍՏՎԱԾ մեր ԱԶԳԻՆ պահապան:

    • Arto T. said:

      I agree with Realist. No U.S. administration will take Armenia’s side against Turkey. Period. Don’t waste time and money. Take our cause to the International Criminal Courts. This should have been done years and years ago. Big mistake. Who cares what the U.S. thinks.

    • Bob said:

      I expect the President of the USA to act in the best interests of our country. If a presidential candidate makes a campaign promise that once in office does not serve US interests then I expect the President to reverse his position and act on the best interests of our nation. Transit through Turkey is an important and efficient route for resupply of our troops in Iraq and Afghanistan. It is naive to expect the President of the USA to act on behalf of Armenia at the expense of US national interests. Reclamation of Western Armenia, securing genocide reparations etc are the legitimate interest of Armenia and the people of Armenia can choose to make them a national priority.

  2. facts said:

    After latest scandals because of Wikeleaks publications is the administration of Obama in a very weak position (offering non stop “sorrys” and excuses )! US administration had to “apologize” to many countries including to Erdogan as well to Azerbaijani President!

  3. Raffi Boyadjian said:

    What a hypocrite and a liar Obama ended up being ! What a disappointement !

    • sepastasi mourad said:

      and your barab US Armenian leadership fell for it…despite this hicks warnings…what were those leaders paid for their deception?????

  4. O'dodd said:

    Disappointed. Ashamed of our government. This would not be happening from Pelosi or Obama if the political clout of the Armenian American political lobby had as much financial clout as those of our opposition. We can support our culture through the promotion of our heritage but the blunt truth is that until our political lobby through the ANCA gains a tremendous amount of increased funding – we will not be able to compete. I applaud the effort put forth – I so believed that this would be a victory in our corner!

    • Heghapokhagan said:

      If we were Half as Jews are…. we all would be in much better position and prosper in all aspects in life

      • Anna said:

        Jews couldn’t do anything against sending an ambassador to Syria! pleasing Turkey, Syria and Azerbijan is for a price nothing is Free.

    • Heghapokhagan said:

      The Only way they would back him…. If Obama .. makes a solemn oath and signs contract…
      but about Oath…. I am not sure about that, because he is a “Godless creature”

    • James Sahagian said:

      I’m pretty sure that won’t be the case. Perhaps it won’t endorse anyone, but I’m sure it won’t be endorsing Obama.

    • manooshag said:

      Hye dagha…
      So, shall have ANCA chosen to back the McCain/Palin Republicans… McCain stated he was not interested in Genocide issues – the Turkish Genocide of the Armenians… vote for them??
      For, if McCain were elected as president and Palin as his vice president… AND if McCain were to be incapacitated… Palin who actions do well in a Hollywood, would have been the president of the USA… Actually, it was a lousy choice – either way. So, your vote? Manooshag

  5. Harutuyn said:

    Enens ek asum Hayer jan vons vor chek imanum hin xosk ka asum en te “shune shan vote erpek chi trori”
    enens vor zarmasas mi grek the inch exav ayo irok tesak inch exav dra hamar jamanake shuta ekel u ansel vor mer Hayere irar knnadatelu texe irar het miasin gorsaksen vochte irar kokort hoshoten, te che vor sens gna el marth chi mna vor knnadatvi.

  6. Heghapokhagan said:

    When Osama…. sorry Obama got elected, I heard through American Christian, that his family and his church were very saddened and had gathered for prayer, because through some scriptures they believed he is the
    “Anti Christ” !!
    I wonder!!

  7. John K. said:

    Just remember not to vote for this TAVAJAN in 2012. Lets make sure that Obama will be one term president. The liar president. We can make this happen in California. Without winning California, he won’t have a chance to be elected.

  8. Hratch said:

    It would be better served if Armenians first matured politically and economically before backing or support anyone. Sadly Armenian-Americans have failed to build the foundations in the past 90 years. They were too busy trying to assimilate and be accepted. In the process, they lost their ability to influence the political landscape in any meaningful way. The present day start-up efforts have been short changed from the previous generation’s short sightedness.

    • manooshag said:

      Hye, Hratch, I disagree with your views… I see that…
      When a nation is decimated via Genocides, dispersed throughout the world, and the Turk perpetrator dreams these peoples will become soon become ‘extinct’… Now, after 90 years, and our third and fourth generations following the Turkish Genocide of the Armenian nation PERSISTENTLY are in pursuit of justice – I see this as a great accomplishment… not to be negated by soured persons as yourself who blames the Survivors!! Our Survivors, who had to flee to the haven of the civilized nations of the world, learn languages and more, educated their young, and more… For worldwide, Armenians have succeeded in all these nations, and too, with our grass roots formed by our dedicated leaders… in pursuit of justice for the Armenian nation.
      Armenia still stands as a fledgling nation, a civilized nation of nearly 20 years… What a great accomplishment for ALL our Armenians who aspired and succeeded… Manooshag

  9. garo avedis said:

    in my opinion this is irresponsible move by Obama,was this move to contain Aliyev,or the give Aliev a sign to go ahead to unleash war?if war come,it Obamas fault.

  10. Emir said:

    President Obama gave a nice New Year gift to Azerbaijan. Our efforts produced results! Kudos to the best president!!!

  11. ArdeVast Atheian said:

    The Left has always been evil, opportunistic and morally bankrupt. That’s what we get for being socialist like them and choosing the Left as an ally. The Right at least is honest when it says we cannot take this step against Turkey now. Yes, we’re too dependent on them to help us in the shaky and starkly anti-American political landscape of the Middle East.

  12. manooshag said:

    Obama, is the USA State Department so limited in the quantity/quality of men/women who can serve as
    ‘Ambassadors’ that you cannot choose more wisely, as the president of the USA, persons whose recent history questions the ‘allegiances’ of a Bryza, politcally. Rather then as might have been in the past, the
    MORAL and honest choices,,, Bryza, obviously, leaves much to be desired of a human who can best be representative of our American republic, the United States of America. If you must use Bryza send Bryza to another site, where he is liable to cause less harm to the image of the United States of America – and, for your ablility to know (before the world) right from wrong, good from bad… to eliminate the obvious ‘garbage’ that the Bryza choice to Azeris continues… ongoing… still. There must better equipped than a Bryza mentality – whose ‘babbling’ responses cause one to wonder… is this the best Obama is capable of bringing to the fore… as an Ambassador – to ANYWHERE!! Manooshag

  13. Paul said:

    Bedk e HAY politician pereng DC mec,hiryanerun bes,ayn aden mezi midik ginen,havadatzek,ayn tramneri bedk e dang nor serunt Hay yerdasardnerun hamar toh ertan Politica,mec,Hacohutyun im Sireli Hayrenagirtznner,Happy New Year Asdvatz Bahe Bahbane Mer Hayasdani ev Asharin Ammen gohmi abroh HAYERI,

    • manooshag said:

      Ayo, via Gateway Progam via ANCA… has been pursuing this entre for the Armenian youth in USA… Too, grass roots across America know to support this effort which is growing, and recognized now, for several years.
      Turks secure sites by destroying, i.e., President Woodrow Wilsons memorial WASHINGTON DC!!
      Manooshag

  14. Zareh said:

    Being “Christian” is a liability for this administration. Obama has a policy of “reaching out to the Muslim world” and want it or not the Armenians (Armenia and the Genocide issue) are insignificant details for him. Obviously the “Armenian factor” in influencing Washington is quite limited, that much has been clearly demonstrated during this past few weeks, culminating with Bryza’s appointment as ambassador to Azerbaijan. Obama is sending a message to both Armenia and the Turkic world making it clear where he stands. So it is up to Armenians to send him a message (to the limits of Armenia’s capabilities) where we stand. And the biggest message we can send to ALL is uniting Artsakh, with the current borders, with Armenia, period.

  15. hayrenaser said:

    if the turks are considering this a victory, let them enjoy their short lived happiness,
    the pay back is going to be humiliating and painful
    america in general doesn’t extend a free hand
    receiver beaware…read the fine print so very carefully before you accept your gift from america

  16. Kevo said:

    Once again Obama has shown Armenians are indeed less than ZERO!
    I however applaud this move because Azerbaijan is in a lose- lose situation involving Armenia and Artsakh.
    Bryza will fail like he failed in Georgia and when the shit hits the fan in Baku his head will be the first one to roll.
    He is a Turk wannabe… and now he can go home.
    Be careful what you wish for Matt because now you have your dream job. You will crash and burn with your adopted Turk nation and I personally will enjoy watching you burn in Baku.

  17. Armenian said:

    So war it is. With the appointment of Bryza, the so called “beloved son of Aliev,” we shall again ready ourselves for a second war against our people. The unsavory congress critters should have punished Obama when he first reneged on his promises long ago.
    We shall mobilize at once and be ready to supply our country with weapons, supplies and menpower. We shall again strike a deadly blow to the heart of the vermin called azeri.

  18. kaloust said:

    This… well articulating candidate… turned out to be a poet, not a leader. Next time… we should vote for a leader we deserve. And what we deserve… is not called Obama.

  19. Kiazer Souze said:

    Barak Hussein Obama is, indeed, a liar. If he wants to mend fences with Armenian Americans, then he needs to find the body of Arman T. Manookian who was buried in an unmarked grave in Hawaii and lay a wreath at a ceremony with “Groong” played. Manookian was an American hero and United States Marine whose soul is lost and forgotten. American Armenian service members cannot even mourn or celebrate his legacy. Barak Hussein Obama has betrayed the contributions of Ernest H. Dervishian (Medal of Honor recipient) as well by his inaction.

    The Turks may have Incirlik airbase, but, the US has more valuable human resources of Armenian Americans who are extremely capable of speaking and comprehending foreign languages quickly. Robert Gates severely underestimated the impact of Obama’s silence would have in recruitment of brave Americans of Armenian descent who would their contributions ignored by civilian command.

    I will be damed if I let my son or daughter join the United States armed services under Barak Hussein Obama.

  20. pkk is the best said:

    there is no victory for turks or azarik ,every thing have its price, stop balming athers, be strong then every bady will respect u . helb Armenia to build strong power army .then obama or mobama all r bull .

  21. Fred Karaman said:

    So, this just proves you know you guys are scared to get land from Turkey through the proper means (fighting with war). Because you cannot win land or soil by spilling the blood of your own nation’s armed forces. That is why you guys are scared of spilling your blood for your land, because you know if you fight Turkey, our troops will send your soldiers in body bags.

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