Armenian Weekly Editorial
President Obama, clearly in no hurry, waited more than a year to fill the empty U.S. Ambassador position in Azerbaijan.
Unfortunately, the President’s choice wasn’t worth the wait. He nominated Matthew Bryza, a controversial diplomat, widely viewed as pro-Azerbaijani and carrying heavy conflict of interest baggage tied to his wife’s professional advocacy at a Washington, DC think-tank in support of Azerbaijani interests. This think tank, the Hudson Institute, significantly, has refused to reveal its foreign sources of funding, but public records show that its programs have been funded by interests from Azerbaijan, Turkey, and the Caspian energy industry.
The Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, John Kerry, from The Armenian Weekly’s home state of Massachusetts, rather than opposing this flawed nomination, or, at the very least, using his powerful position to demand careful scrutiny of this nominee, has, instead, stretched the Senate’s rules to rush through Mr. Bryza’s confirmation as quickly as possible.
Under Senator Kerry’s leadership, the Foreign Relations Committee did not provide the traditional one-week notice for Mr. Bryza’s nomination, and then, unusually, allowed only one day for Senators to submit written Questions for the Record. Today, as we go to press, it remains unclear if Senator Kerry will again seek to rush through this process by scheduling Mr. Bryza for this coming week, despite the fact that his fellow Senators and, more broadly, concerned elements of American civil society, have yet to have a chance to meaningfully review, investigate, and respond to the written responses just released by the State Department.
Senator Kerry’s unusual “fast-tracking” of this nomination is all the more troubling in light of the sustained efforts over the past several months by Armenian Americans, in Massachusetts and nationwide, in calling upon him to ensure careful scrutiny of the U.S. ambassadorial nomination to Azerbaijan. The urgency of the Armenian American community’s communications with the Senator have reflected profound reservations over Mr. Bryza’s demonstrated unfairness on Armenian issues, as well as concern that the confirmation of a nominee who has consistently turned a blind-eye to Azerbaijani threats, aggression, and acts of cultural desecration will substantially set back the cause of peace in Nagorno Karabakh. The community’s concerns about Senator Kerry’s actions are compounded by unanswered questions about why he has remained so conspicuously absent, during this session of Congress, as a cosponsor of the Armenian Genocide Resolution, a measure is backed by the Senate Majority Leader and that he had, until now, consistently backed throughout his tenure in public office.
All citizens and Senators deserve a chance to meaningfully participate in the important Constitutional process of ambassadorial confirmations, especially when vital life-and-death issues are at stake, as they are in Nagorno Karabakh. As Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and a Senator representing America’s oldest and one of its largest Armenian American communities, John Kerry should put the brakes on the Bryza nomination.