Kerry Schedules Bryza Confirmation Vote Despite Evasive Answers

WASHINGTON–Senator John Kerry (D-Mass.), chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, today announced that his panel will hold a vote next Tues., Aug. 3 on the confirmation of Matthew Bryza, President Obama’s controversial nominee to serve as U.S. ambassador to Azerbaijan, despite the nominee’s evasive and incomplete answers to a series of written questions submitted to him by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and key members of this influential panel, reported the Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA).

“Mr. Bryza’s evasive, unresponsive, and incomplete written answers to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, even more than his spoken testimony before this panel, confirm our reservations about his
troubling track record, and clearly confirm that he is not the right person to serve as U.S. ambassador to Azerbaijan,” said Aram Hamparian, executive director of the ANCA. “American diplomacy in the region would be well served by a fresh start, with a new ambassador who doesn’t have deep ties into Azerbaijan’s corrupt government, a history of turning a blind-eye to Baku’s aggression, or serious conflict of interest issues.”

“We want to thank Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and offer our sincere appreciation to Senators Boxer and Menendez and all the those who have worked hard to ensure that we send an ambassador to Baku who can effectively represent U.S. interests, persuasively advance American values, and–crucially, for the cause of peace–constrain an increasingly belligerent Aliyev regime from acting on its threats of renewed war,” added Hamparian.

Bryza’s July 22 confirmation hearing before the Foreign Relations Committee raised more questions than it answered on a range of issues, prompting Senators Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), Robert Menendez (D-N.J.), Russ Feingold (D-Wisc.), and Kerry to submit written questions to the nominee and, significantly, prompted a detailed letter of inquiry to the State Department directly from Reid.

Azerbaijani aggression

During Bryza’s July 22 committee appearance, he confirmed, for the first time by an administration official, the widely reported news that Azerbaijan had, in fact, initiated the June 18, 2010 incident on
the Nagorno-Karabagh frontier that led to the death of four Karabagh and one Azerbaijani soldier. In response to a question from Boxer, he acknowledged Azerbaijan sparked the conflict, but then sought to deflect responsibility onto Karabagh forces, which he mistakenly described as “Armenia[n],” stating: “There was an Azerbaijani movement across the line of contact, Armenia responded, resulting in deaths.” In response to  Boxer’s follow-up written question asking, “Why hasn’t the U.S. government been more forceful in its condemnation of Azerbaijan,” Bryza retreated from his cautious spoken remarks, saying only that “the full details of what occurred on June 18 are not known.”

In response to a separate written question by Boxer as to whether Azerbaijan’s June 18 attack against Karabagh represented a violation of Section 907 of the FREEDOM Support Act, which restricts U.S. aid to Azerbaijan unless it takes demonstrable steps to cease offensive uses of force against Armenia and Karabagh, Bryza repeated: “The full details of what occurred on June 18 are not known,” and then went on to defend the administration’s waiver of Section 907 and to generally praise Azerbaijan as an “important security partner” to the United States.

Azerbaijan’s desecration of the Djulfa Cemetery

In response to written inquiries about Bryza’s prolonged silence in the wake of Azerbaijan’s December 2005 demolition of the Armenian cemetery in Djulfa, Bryza argued that he had made private comments on this matter to Azerbaijani Foreign Minister Elmar Mammedyarov, but could not point to any public remarks until March of the following year, when he was confronted with questions on this subject by journalists at a Yerevan press conference. In the nearly three-month period of Bryza’s silence on Djulfa, this issue was covered in the international media and publicly condemned by U.S. Members of Congress, international NGOs, and the full European Parliament.

Conflict of interest

In response to concerns by Menendez regarding conflict of interest issues that arose regarding Bryza’s wife, Zeyno Baran, and her professional work at the Hudson Institute advocating on U.S. policy toward Azerbaijan and the Caspian region, Bryza argued that, since January 2009, Baran had “shifted the focus of her work” from the south Caucasus to “Islam, democracy, and extremism in Europe and the United States.” (A simple Google search reveals numerous instances of public commentary by Baran regarding the south Caucasus since 2009.)

The funding source for Baran’s Center for Eurasia Policy program at the Hudson Institute remains unclear. The Hudson Institute has, as of today, refused to respond to a June 3, 2010 written request from the ANCA that it publicly share its sources of funding from Turkey and Azerbaijan.

Fast-tracking of nomination

An editorial published today in the Armenian Weekly voiced the Armenian American community’s frustration with Senator Kerry’s fast-tracking of the Bryza nomination. “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-Karabagh,” noted the Weekly. “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.”

The full text of the Armenian Weekly editorial can be found at

Armenian Americans have been contacting their Senators to oppose the Bryza nomination through an ANCA action alert at

Links to Reid’s letter and responses to the questions submitted by Senators Boxer and Menendez are posted on the ANCA website,


  1. Morality and justice vs. Realpolitiks and “strategic interests.”  This has always been our struggle as Armenians.  We are accustomed to this, but can’t back down.  Lives are on the line in Artsakh.

  2. Who knows  maybe  our “friend”  Senator  KERRY  like  many  others   looking   for  a  share  in  Azebaijani  oil  industry,  after his retirment.

  3. We need not rely on sentiment, ethics or legal rights. They do not serve the poor or the righteous. In diplomacy, might makes right. Armenians need to emulate the successful. To advance in US politics, one has to have direct presence in the House and Senate, ie; about ten or fifteen representatives of Armenian descent; Or. Invest huge amounts of campaign money on candidates, and demand repayment in purpose. Abhorrent? Just American politics at its best. We need to mature as a political entity. The possibilities are infinite.

  4. What i want to know is HOW MUCH TOP SECRET ACCESS this guy has, because he could be a spy for Turks/Azeris.. really..!!!

  5. An article last week by Sibel Edmonds says that Amb. Richard Morningstar was Bryza’s mentor, and that Morningstar has long been a great friend of Senator Kerry.

    Is Kerry a great friend of Armenians?  Ha!

  6. The Kerry ‘brand’ has really been tarnished by this latest stunt. Just when we need him, John kneels to the gods of political expediency in Washington and takes his marching orders with a reckless disregard for reality and human rights.
    As usual, the facts are clear but the intestinal fortitude and moral backbone is missing amongst are so called friends.

  7. HYe Edward, I agree… you might like to know that the ANCA, with all their efforts for Hai Tahd, too have placed, via their Gateway program which assists those of Armenian heritage who seek to connect with such placements in Washington DC.  Too, over the years ANCA has been blessed with members of Congress whose concerns for justice for the Turkish Genocide of the Armenian nation is an ongoing priority – which may too, hopefully, lead to the end of the cycle of all Genocides…   Too, seeking to support Armenians who are capable and determined to run for office in the Congress. Too, recognizing the the USA State Department is inordinately attached to the Turkish leaderships – recognizes that we Armenians are politically active and cognizant of the State Departments’ misdirection and too, a White House who still find that Turkey is an ‘ally’!!  Actually, conversely, the USA is the ‘ally of the Turks but the Turks, unbelievably, see themselves as the ‘ally’ of the USA!!  Turks cannot see beyond themselves… and offer no advancements to the civilized world.   As you said, the possibilities are infinite… Are you aware of the activities of the ANCA as the leading and progressive leadership of our American diaspora and in this capacity all across the USA grassroots Armenians support their endeavors.   All students of the Armenian schools come to Washington DC and invited to ANCA offices as well… Manooshag

  8. Clearly we need more stringent criteria as to which politician is endorsed as a friend of our community.
    Every Tom, Dick and Harry cannot be trusted! This is a point in case.

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