Boxer, Menendez Oppose Controversial Conformation
ANCA Urges Senators to Block Final Action on Bryza Nomination
Each Senator has the Right to Place a “Hold” on Nominee
WASHINGTON – Despite serious concerns regarding U.S. Ambassador to Azerbaijan-designate Matt Bryza’s unusually close ties to Azerbaijani government officials, his troubling track record as a senior diplomat dealing with the Caucasus, and persistent conflict of interest issues related to the Caspian energy industry, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee Tuesday voted to approve his nomination by voice vote, with Senators Barbara Boxer (D-CA) and Robert Menendez (D-NJ) both speaking and voting against his confirmation, reported the Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA).
“We want to thank Senators Boxer and Menendez for standing up against the deeply flawed Bryza nomination,” said ANCA Executive Director Aram Hamparian. “Sending Matt Bryza to Baku amid escalating threats of renewed war by Azerbaijan’s leaders would undermine U.S. interests, hinder the advancement of democratic values, and set back the search for a lasting peace for all the nations of the Caucasus. He clearly is the wrong diplomat, at the wrong time, for the exactly the wrong post.”
In her remarks during today’s Committee meeting, 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 Sen. 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 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 and opposition to Armenian Genocide affirmation; and, “very close personal ties to Turkey and Azerbaijan and therefore about his ability to act as an unbiased representative of the United States in Azerbaijan.”
The panel’s Chairman, John Kerry (D-MA), stated that he appreciated the concerns raised by Senators Menendez and Boxer, but ultimately voted for Bryza’s confirmation.
Hamparian continued, noting, “Our nation’s important diplomatic work in Azerbaijan would be best served by a fresh start, one without the bias and baggage that Matt Bryza would bring to this pivotal position. Our hope now is that the Senate will block his confirmation, and that the President will offer a new candidate who will openly stand up to Azerbaijan’s aggression and forcefully deter its march toward renewed war against Nagorno Karabakh.”
Each Senator has the right to place a “hold” on an ambassadorial nomination, effectively preventing consideration by the full Senate. This step was taken by Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ) in 2006, blocking the appointment of U.S. Ambassador to Armenia nominee Richard Hoagland, who had denied the Armenian Genocide during his Senate confirmation process.
Bryza’s incomplete and evasive responses to extensive questioning by Senate Foreign Relations Committee members Boxer, Menendez and Jean Shaheen (D-NH) during his July 22nd confirmation hearing, and to subsequent written questions by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV), and Senators Boxer, Menendez, and Russ Feingold (D-WI), led Senator Boxer to ask for a delay in the consideration of his nomination on August 3rd. Her action provided Senators a meaningful opportunity time to review his candidacy during the August recess. Additional responses submitted to Senators during the August Congressional recess were equally evasive.
The ANCA has published a detailed 9-page review of the shortcomings of the Bryza nomination here.