WASHINGTON–The Washington Post at the weekend published a letter to the editor from Senator Robert Manendez explaining his ‘hold’ on the Matthew Bryza nomination for the position of US ambassador to Azerbaijan.
“At the core of my opposition to Mr. Bryza’s nomination is respect for the Armenian people,” the Senator says in his letter, explaining that the US should not send a diplomat to the region that does not recognize the Armenian Genocide.
We present the letter below in its entirety:
Why I oppose Matthew Bryza’s nomination as ambassador to Azerbaijan
Sunday, October 3, 2010
The Sept. 24 editorial “A toxic hold,” in criticizing Sen. Barbara Boxer’s and my opposition to the nomination of Matthew Bryza as ambassador to Azerbaijan, cited an unsubstantiated comment from a junior member of my staff as my position. This was despite the fact that a Post editorial writer had a full conversation with my foreign policy adviser and an official written statement regarding my position, which was entirely consistent with my statement before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. The suggestion that my office “backpedaled” is incorrect. The Post is entitled to its own opinion, but not to its own facts.
For the record, I stand by my position that Mr. Bryza is the wrong person for the job and have made public my hold in the U.S. Senate on his nomination. That position has absolutely nothing to do with the ethnic origin of his wife. It is based on information that I believe raises concerns about Mr. Bryza’s ability to remain impartial toward Azerbaijan and Turkey, including his opposition to the recognition of the Armenian genocide by Turkey and his close ties to individuals in both governments. Perhaps it is not so unusual for a U.S. ambassador to have acquaintances in regional governments, but when those relationships affect the ability of the individual to represent the interests of the United States, it is my prerogative to withhold support of the nomination.
Finally, at the core of my opposition to Mr. Bryza’s nomination is respect for the Armenian people. The Armenian genocide was one of the great atrocities of modern history. We should not be sending a top diplomat to the region who does not support recognition of what is considered among historians to be the first modern genocide. Nor should The Post label the Armenian National Committee of America as “noxious” simply for demanding recognition of this historical fact.
Robert Menendez, Washington
The writer, a Democrat, represents New Jersey in the U.S. Senate.