LAS VEGAS—Representatives of the Armenian National Committee of America-Nevada Chapter met with Senator John Ensign (NV-R) earlier this week to express concern about the nomination of Matthew Bryza as Ambassador to Azerbaijan and discuss other issues of concern to the Armenian American community in Nevada.
“We would like to thank Senator Ensign for his continued support of issues that are important to the Armenian-American community of Nevada,” stated ANCA-NV Chapter Chairman Ara Shirinian. “We look forward to working closely with the Senator in the years to come.”
During the meeting, attendees expressed grave concern about the nomination of Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Matthew Bryza to the position of U.S. Ambassador to Azerbaijan. They highlighted Bryza’s conflict of interest issues and his dismissive responses regarding the desecration of the ancient Djulfa cemetery by Azerbaijani soldiers in December 2005.
“Our Nevada community firmly believes that Bryza is incapable of representing and implementing our American foreign policy interests in a region of the world where peace is precarious,” stated Sarig Armenian.
“Bryza’s deep ties to the Azerbaijani government and his conflicting answers clearly indicate that U.S. interests would be better served by an individual with a fresh start in the region,” she added.
Bryza’s July 22 confirmation hearing before the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee was characterized by evasive and incomplete answers to a series of probing questions posed by Senators Barbara Boxer (CA-D) and Robert Menendez (NJ-D), and an inquiry about potential conflict of interest issues by Senator Jeanne Shaheen (NH-D), who served as chairwoman of the hearing. Bryza’s responses to written questions submitted by Senators Boxer, Menendez, Russ Feingold (WI-D) and Chairman Kerry (MA-D) were also largely non-responsive.
In a move signaling the careful Senate scrutiny of the Bryza nomination, the Senate Majority Leader, Harry Reid (NV-D), personally wrote a letter to the State Department raising direct questions about Bryza’s nomination. The Senate Foreign Relations Committee postponed a vote on U.S. Ambassador to Azerbaijan-designate Matthew Bryza until after the Senate August recess, in response to a ‘hold-over’ request by Senator Boxer.
In a recent letter addressed to individuals from Nevada’s Armenian American community, Senator Ensign noted that members of the Senate raised many concerns about the Bryza nomination, and assured the community that he will continue to monitor the status of the Bryza nomination process closely.
Since his election, Senator Ensign has been strong supporter of the issues important to Armenian American voters in Nevada, such as Armenian Genocide recognition and strengthening economic relations between the United States and Armenia.
In June of 2003, Senator Ensign drafted and introduced S.Res.164, a Genocide Resolution that marks the 15th anniversary of the U.S. implementation of the Genocide Convention. The bill reaffirms the commitment of the American people to this landmark treaty and specifically cites the importance of education people of past genocides, like the Armenian Genocide, in order to make the world safe from future genocides.
Most recently in October 2009, Senator Ensign, along with Senator Menendez introduced S. Res. 316, the current Armenian Genocide Resolution in the U.S. Senate. The measure is similar to legislation in the U.S. House, H. Res. 252, introduced by U.S. Representatives Adam Schiff (CA-29-D), George Radanovich (CA-19-R), and Congressional Armenian Caucus Co-Chairs Frank Pallone (NJ-06-D) and Mark Kirk (IL-10-R).
Senator Ensign was first elected to the U.S. Senate in 2000 and serves on the following committees: Budget; Commerce, Science and Transportation; Finance; Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs; and Rules & Administration. Ensign is Ranking Member of the Subcommittee on Technology, Innovation, and Competitiveness of the Commerce Committee. As a past High Tech Task Force Chairman, Ensign plays a leading role in shaping telecommunications and technology policy on Capitol Hill.
The Armenian National Committee of America-Nevada Chapter is a grassroots, advocacy organization advancing issues of concern to the area’s Armenian American community as well as promoting the community’s civic engagement at the local, state, and federal level.