TBILISI (Combined Sources)—US Deputy Assistant Secretary of State and US Minsk Group co-chairman Matthew Bryza announced Tuesday while visiting the Georgian capital that US ambassador to Kosovo Tina Kaidanow will replace him as the next Co-chair.
Bryza said that Kaidanow was expected be appointed Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs. Recent media reports indicate that Bryza is poised to become the new US Ambassador to Azerbaijan.
Kaidanow was sworn in as U.S. Ambassador to Kosovo on July 18, 2008. Prior to that, Kaidanow was the Chief of Mission and Charge d’Affaires at the U.S. Office in Pristina (later the U.S. Embassy) from July 2006 to July 2008.
Kaidanow arrived in Kosovo from Sarajevo, where she was the Deputy Chief of Mission at the U.S. Embassy for the previous three years. Prior to that she was the Special Assistant for European Affairs to Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage.
A career member of the U.S. diplomatic service, Kaidanow has served extensively in the region, as Special Assistant to U.S. Ambassador Christopher Hill in Skopje 1998-1999, with specific responsibilities focused on the crisis in Kosovo; and assignments in Sarajevo (1997-1998) and Belgrade. She has also held the position of Director for Southeast European Affairs at the National Security Council.
Kaidanow holds a Bachelor of Arts and Master of Arts degree from the University of Pennsylvania and a Master of Philosophy degree in Political Science from Columbia University in New York.
Bryza, who, as he himself put it, was a more frequent guest to Georgia than any other U.S. official, was a regular target of criticism of Georgian opposition for his perceived support personally to President Saakashvili, which the opponents claimed, was resulting into turning a blind eye on the Georgian authorities’ failures to deliver democratic reforms.
“I found it simply ridiculous to read, to hear some of the things some of my colleagues in more radical side of Georgia’s opposition were saying about me supposedly supporting only one person in this country,” Bryza said in his opening remarks at a news conference in Tbilisi on August 10 – the issue which he had to publicly address at least once in the past.
And when asked about the criticism to the Bush administration for supposedly having personalized nature of relations with the Georgian leadership, Bryza responded: “With all due respect to those experts who pose that question they simply are completely unaware of how the U.S. policy has been formed for these last many years.”
“What has been consistent, meaning what will not change from one [U.S.] administration to another is that the personalization of the U.S. policy towards Georgia is that we persons [in the U.S.] feel very close to all of you persons [in Georgia],” Bryza said.
In a joint opinion piece published in The New York Times on August 5 Mark Lenzi, a former country director for the International Republican Institute in Georgia and Lincoln Mitchell, a former country director for the National Democratic Institute in Georgia, wrote that they knew firsthand about “how the highly personalized nature of relations between the U.S. and Georgian leadership has contributed to bipartisan American reluctance to criticize the steps Georgia has made away from democracy in recent years.”
Before leaving Georgia for Baku, Bryza met with President Saakashvili who awarded the U.S. diplomat with the Golden Fleece medal—an award presented to foreign citizens for their contribution to “building the Georgian statehood” and developing bilateral ties with foreign countries.
“Matt [referring to Bryza] has contributed largely to strengthen of our bilateral relations [with the United States]. He stood by Georgia in the most difficult times,” Saakashvili said.
Bryza said Monday, referring to the August war, that last year “those people, who may have had dark goals to undermine Georgia, failed” and now the best way for Georgia was to go ahead with its economic and democratic reforms.
Echoing U.S. Vice President Joe Biden’s remarks in Tbilisi last month, Bryza said that “life will be normal and fully healthy here once institutions, like Parliament, play a stronger role; once judicial reform has advanced; once electoral reforms are in place and once we see stronger and more independent media.”
He reiterated that the U.S. would stand by Georgia and the two countries’ partnership would deepen “as Georgia is on this path of expanding political and economic freedom through serious reforms.”
“It needs to be worked on now to rejuvenate these reforms,” he added.