WASHINGTON—Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA) Chairman Ken Hachikian today sent a letter to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton outlining the concerns of the Armenian American community regarding the recent biased remarks by Matt Bryza, the U.S. Co-Chair to the OSCE Minsk Group charged with helping to negotiate a settlement of the Nagorno Karabagh conflict.
The four-page letter, dated August 20, 2009, addressed, in detail, recent unfair, inaccurate, and counter-productive statements by Bryza, and, more broadly, expressed the view that his actions reflect the failings of an Administration that, having already broken a series of pledges to Armenian Americans, is now in the process of effectively handing over decision-making on U.S. policy on Armenian issues to the Turkish government: In the letter, Hachikian stressed: “Today, seven months after the start of the Obama-Biden Administration, we are seriously concerned that this Administration has abdicated its responsibilities by effectively outsourcing our nation’s foreign policy with respect to Armenian issues to the Republic of Turkey, as every single policy dealing with Armenia has been made along the lines that Turkey has dictated, rather than along the sound principles of morality and democracy that you, President Obama and Vice President Biden unambiguously articulated during your presidential campaigns last year.”
The full text of the letter is provided below.
August 20, 2009
The Honorable Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
U.S. Department of State
2201 C Street N.W.
Washington, DC 20520
Dear Secretary Clinton,
I am writing on behalf of the Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA) to voice the Armenian American community’s grave concerns regarding recent unfair, inaccurate, and counter- productive statements by the U.S. Co-Chair of the OSCE Minks Group, Matthew Bryza, regarding the Republics of Armenia and Nagorno Karabagh.
Mr. Bryza’s recent actions as a part of the Obama-Biden Administration, as well as his past conduct during his time as Deputy Assistant Secretary, as U.S. Co-Chair of the OSCE Minsk Group, as a senior National Security Council staff member, and as an Eurasian energy advisor for the Department, reflect a pattern of consistent, material, and transparent bias against Armenia and Nagorno Karabagh. His behavior in the months since President Obama’s inauguration are especially troubling because they stand in such dramatic contrast to the public commitments that the President, Vice President, and that you made to the American electorate during the 2008 Presidential campaign.
As you may know, the ANCA has consistently registered public concerns regarding Mr. Bryza’s biased diplomacy on Armenia-related matters, including his pro-Azerbaijani bias in the Nagorno Karabagh peace process and his longstanding role as a promoter of U.S.
complicity in Turkey’s denials of the Armenian Genocide. Our community’s attention was again drawn to his representation of our government’s policies following a speech he delivered, on August 7, 2009, in Tsakhkadzor, Armenia, as well as by news reports that he is being considered as a candidate to serve as our next Ambassador to Azerbaijan. In his remarks in Tsakhkadzor, Mr. Bryza, once again, made a number of statements that directly contradict the President’s pledge to work toward a “lasting and durable settlement of the Nagorno Karabagh conflict that is agreeable to all parties, and based upon America’s founding commitment to the principles of democracy and self determination.”
Most notably, Mr. Bryza has argued that the fatally flawed Madrid principles are a balanced set of concessions, when, at their heart, they represent nothing more than a major, irreversible, up-front concession of fundamental security on the part of the Armenian side with only a vague promise that some undefined process, involving undetermined actors, will take place regarding Nagorno Karabagh’s status, according to his own words, “at some point” in the future.
The President of Azerbaijan, Ilham Aliyev, has made it painfully clear that he will not even honor this weakly worded and effectively meaningless expectation. President Aliyev has chosen to reserve his public comments for threats of renewed aggression and assurances that, even if Armenia were to surrender territories, “it may take a year, maybe 10 years, maybe 100 years, or it will never be possible” to reach the point where Azerbaijan would consent to a mere “discussion” of Nagorno Karabagh’s status.
This “compromise” is not a fair deal, but rather a one-sided surrender of Nagorno Karabagh’s rights, status, and security, in large measure, engineered by Mr. Bryza. This settlement, which would cement Armenia into profound strategic and military disadvantages and ensure continued regional instability, is, at present, being imposed upon the Armenian people through the full force and leverage of the U.S. government.
In his remarks, Mr. Bryza compounded his biased defense of these flawed principles by falsely claiming that the Azerbaijani side has made a “concession” by agreeing to merely discuss the matter of Nagorno Karabagh’s self-determination. The fact is that Azerbaijan has neither the moral right nor the practical ability to grant either freedom or independence to Nagorno Karabagh. He also, during the question and answer period, assigned to the people of Nagorno Karabagh a second-tier right to self-determination, one that requires the assent of Azerbaijan, as opposed to the right to independence enjoyed today by the people of Kosovo and recognized officially by the U.S. government despite the objections of Serbia.
Also of profound concern in Mr. Bryza’s comments at Tsakhkadzor was his false assertion that Nagorno Karabagh’s exclusion from the OSCE Minsk Group peace process was driven by Armenia’s request to the others parties to the negotiations. This is simply not the case.
In addition to the concerns I have outlined regarding Mr. Bryza’s recent comments, we remain seriously troubled that he has continued to stand in the way of broad-based dialogue between the governments and peoples of the U.S. and Nagorno Karabagh. In his capacity as OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chair, instead of promoting open communication, he has enforced a set of outdated and counter-productive restrictions that block the hope for greater mutual understanding.
He has, as well, even as recently as the current foreign aid cycle, failed to facilitate desperately needed U.S. development assistance programs in Nagorno Karabagh. Finally, he has undermined his own credibility by making the patently false claim that neither he nor his State Department colleagues have applied pressure to Armenia regarding the settlement of Nagorno Karabagh.
The concerns I have raised regarding the one-sided Nagorno Karabagh diplomacy that Mr. Bryza has conducted on behalf of the U.S.
government reflect our community’s broader disappointment regarding the Obama-Biden Administration’s failure to honor its many pledges on Armenian issues. Foremost among these, of course, is the President’s broken promise to recognize the Armenian Genocide.
Rather than upholding this crystal clear covenant, the Administration has, instead, aggressively attacked the spirit and letter of this commitment by promoting Turkey’s artificial “roadmap” and pressuring Armenia to accept a “historical commission” that, in yet another transparent attempt by Ankara to perpetuate its campaign of genocide denial, calls into question the veracity of the Armenian Genocide. The Administration has, in addition, sharply cut economic and other aid to Armenia, despite the President’s pledge to maintain assistance levels. This pattern of behavior represents a breach of faith with Armenian Americans, fundamentally damages our government’s friendship with Armenia, and effectively eliminates our country’s ability to act as an honest broker in the region.
Today, seven months after the start of the Obama-Biden Administration, we are seriously concerned that this Administration has abdicated its responsibilities by effectively outsourcing our nation’s foreign policy with respect to Armenian issues to the Republic of Turkey, as every single policy dealing with Armenia has been made along the lines that Turkey has dictated, rather than along the sound principles of morality and democracy that you, President Obama and Vice President Biden unambiguously articulated during your presidential campaigns last year.
Thank you for your consideration of our views. We respectfully request an immediate personal meeting between you and the Armenian American community’s civic, religious, and charitable leaders so that we can address these matters in greater detail.
Kenneth V. Hachikian