WASHINGTON–President Obama’s controversial nominee to serve as U.S. Ambassador to Azerbaijan, Matt Bryza, in his second round of written responses to Senate Foreign Relations Committee member Barbara Boxer (D-CA), again fell short of addressing key concerns about his diplomatic record, including his longstanding pattern of failing to challenge Azerbaijan war rhetoric and outright attacks on Nagorno Karabakh, reported the Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA).
“Mr. Bryza, with every new dodge, digs himself a deeper and deeper hole, demonstrating why he is so clearly the wrong choice to be U.S. Ambassador to Azerbaijan,” said Aram Hamparian, Executive Director of the ANCA. “Our nation’s interests in Baku and throughout the Caucasus would be best served by a fresh start, with a nominee that doesn’t bring such baggage and bias to this important diplomatic posting.”
In written responses, Bryza attempted to explain why he had stepped back from a statement made at his July 22nd confirmation hearing, during which he correctly described the June 18th Azerbaijani attack against Nagorno Karabakh. “While I said that the Azerbaijanis moved across the line of contact (LOC), the full details of what triggered the June 18 incident are unknown. Unfortunately, there are a number of LOC violations each year by both sides,” noted Bryza, in a manner consistent with his habit of blaming both sides for Azerbaijan’s mounting threats and aggression.
Sen. Boxer, who was outspoken in 2006 in calling on then U.S. Ambassador to Azerbaijan Reno Harnish and Ambassador Designate Anne Derse to investigate the Azerbaijani destruction of the 1300-year-old Armenian cemetery in Djulfa, asked Bryza to clarify why it had taken him three months to publicly condemn the desecration and only as a result of active questioning from Armenian journalists. Bryza sidestepped the question, though admitted that “it appears that Azerbaijani authorities were responsible for the destruction at Djulfa,” offering no insight into any additional U.S. diplomatic inquiry about the crime.
Bryza’s responses were equally disconcerting regarding Azerbaijan’s continued blockade of Armenia and Nagorno Karabakh and the U.S. Administration’s waiver of Section 907 restrictions on U.S. aid to Azerbaijan. In his response to direct questions about whether Azerbaijan was in compliance with Section 907, Bryza simply explained the nature of the Section 907 waiver criteria, but made no attempt to address the Senator’s concern about Azerbaijan’s blockade or threats and attacks against Armenia and Nagorno Karabakh.
Sen. Boxer’s questions and Bryza’s complete responses are available on the ANCA website at: http://www.anca.org/assets/pdf/misc/Boxer_BryzaResponses2.pdf
Incomplete and evasive responses to extensive questioning by Senate Foreign Relations Committee members Boxer, Robert Menendez (D-NJ) and Jean Shaheen (D-NH) during his July 22nd confirmation hearing and to subsequent written questions by Senators Boxer, Menendez, and Russ Feingold (D-WI) led Senator Boxer to ask for a delay in the consideration of Bryza’s nomination, giving Senators additional time to review his candidacy. No date has yet been announced for final Committee consideration of his nomination.
A review of the ANCA’s detailed 9-page review of the shortcomings of the Bryza nomination can be found at: http://www.anca.org/assets/pdf/misc/BryzaNomination.pdf