Obama Circumvents Senate to Appoint Bryza as Ambassador to Azerbaijan

White House Uses Recess Appointment to Send Envoy to Baku Without Senate Confirmation

WASHINGTON—Despite Senate opposition, driven by Democratic Senators Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) and Robert Menendez (D-N.J.), President Barack Obama today announced that he is making a recess appointment of Matt Bryza as U.S. ambassador to Azerbaijan, reported the Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA).

The president’s action, in the final days of the 111th Congress, comes despite serious concerns regarding Bryza’s unusually close and controversial ties to Azerbaijani government officials, his deeply troubling track record as a senior diplomat dealing with the Caucasus, and persistent conflict of interest issues related to the Caspian energy industry.

“Armenian Americans are deeply troubled by President Obama’s decision today to circumvent the U.S. Senate and use a recess appointment to send a deeply flawed diplomat to represent America in Azerbaijan” said ANCA Executive Director Aram Hamparian.

“The president’s push to send Matt Bryza to Baku without Senate approval represents a disservice to American diplomacy that will, sadly, undermine our nation’s ability to advance our interests and values in the Caucasus region.”

“President Obama, whose administration only a week ago helped kill the Armenian Genocide Resolution in the U.S. House, has again demonstrated an utter disregard for his own campaign commitments on issues ranging from the Armenian Genocide and Nagorno-Karabagh to U.S. aid and trade with Armenia.”

Bryza, who had served as Organization of Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) Mink Group co-chair, charged with mediating the Karabagh conflict from 2006 through 2009, was nominated for U.S. ambassador to Azerbaijan in May 2010. The ANCA opposed his nomination, issuing a 10-page report citing issues ranging from conflict of interest concerns to his prolonged inaction in the face of the Azerbaijani government’s destruction of the 13th Century Armenian cemetery in Djulfa, and his inordinately close ties to the dictatorial Aliyev Administration.

A complete overview of ANCA concerns can be found by visiting www.anca.org/assets/pdf/misc/BryzaNomination.pdf.

Following his Senate confirmation hearing this July, Bryza was asked to respond to several rounds of written questions from Senators regarding his track record in the region. After reviewing his testimony, written responses, and reviewing his diplomatic record, Senators Barbara Boxer and Robert Menendez placed a “hold” on Bryza’s nomination, effectively blocking a vote on his nomination by the full Senate.

In her remarks during the Senate Foreign Relations Committee vote on his candidacy, Boxer explained that she voted against the Bryza nomination because he had not demonstrated the willingness or the ability to meaningfully confront Azerbaijan’s aggression. “Despite my appreciation for Mr. Bryza’s long service as a Foreign Service Officer, I don’t believe he is the right person for this position,” explained Boxer. “What concerns me is that Mr. Bryza has demonstrated a pattern of unwillingness to speak out forcefully in the face of increasing Azerbaijani aggression against Nagorno-Karabagh.”

Menendez, who has played a constructive role in reviewing the Bryza confirmation process, noted that he had “serious reservations about the U.S. ambassador nominee to Azerbaijan,” citing Bryza’s inaction in the face of Azerbaijan’s desecration of the Djulfa cemetery close personal ties to regional leaders, and therefore about his ability to act as an unbiased representative of the United States in Azerbaijan.

Even Senators voting in favor of Bryza expressed worries about his nomination. The panel’s chairman, John Kerry (D-Mass.), stated that he appreciated the concerns raised by Menendez and Boxer and anticipated continued Senate scrutiny. Sen. Russ Feingold (D-Wisc.) issued a statement following the vote, stating that he found concerns raised by constituents and others “troubling, particularly Mr. Bryza’s relationship with the Azerbaijan government.”

“Sadly, President Obama chose not to take advantage of the opportunity presented by Senators Boxer and Menendez to get U.S. diplomacy toward Azerbaijan and the region off to a fresh start, without an ambassadorial nominee with a record of bias and extensive baggage,” added Hamparian.

With a hold in place, the Senate returned his nomination to the White House, which then opened up the possibility for a recess appointment. In addition to Bryza, Obama, also today, issued recess appointments for the U.S. ambassadors to Turkey, Syria, and the Czech Republic.

According to Article 2, Section 2 of the U.S. Constitution, “The President shall have Power to fill up all Vacancies that may happen during the Recess of the Senate, by granting Commissions which shall expire at the End of their next Session.” The Senate will have the opportunity to review this decision in approximately one year.


  1. Hye, Obama evidently is limited in the quantity and the quality of men/women to select as his choices for representing the USA nation as Ambassadors throughout the world.  Bryza, whose bumbling and  mis-spoken responses, obviously, indicate and qualify him to be  ineligible to represent the USA ANYWHERE!
    Obama, if you must place a Bryza, place him where he is least harmful to the image of the USA before the civilized world… Bryza,,, who is mentally too “small” to be representing the our nation – before the world.  Is the USA State Department under staffed, that such as a Bryza is still in your consideratons for placement as an Ambassador representing the USA – ANYWHERE!! Manooshag

  2. Actually we need to look at the bright side of this appointment.  I rather have Bryza in this position than someone else.  Bryza and his biases are well known.  This reputation will make him totally useless and incapable of saying anything or doing anything with credibility.  All of his words and actions are going to be suspect by all even the State Department.  Wouldn’t you rather have someone who is discredited in that position rather than a credible diplomat?

  3. Fredrick, I hope you are right. I agree that, at least, he is a known evil. He may also try harder to be objective knowing that his actions are going to be under scrutiny.

  4. Manooshag,

    You accuse Ambassador Bryza of being “mentally small”. Really! Have you read your own post, with all of the grammatical errors! I ask you, can you even come close to matching his vast accomplishments? Can ANY of you? I thought not!

  5. Accomplishments, Steve. Really?! Being thoroughly discredited for cozying up to a dictatorial regime precariously perched on dwindling oil revenues? If this constitutes “vast,” then former Ambassador Evans’ accomplishments were gargantuan.

  6. It matters very little as who is the ambassador to Baku. The fact of the matter is that we have re-gained the Karabagh and it will not be returned to Azeri control, regardless of who is in charge. Levon Ter-Petrosyan tried to find a way to return it to Azerbaijan, he was pushed out properly. Kocharyan didn’t do it. Sargsyan cannot and will not do it.
    Bryza is appointed to facilitate larger and perhaps more lucrative oil / gas deals with Aliyev. The more corrupt the Azeri government, the less its troops will be motivated to fight, as observed during 1992-1994.

  7. Vacheh,

    I have to agree with you. I think way too much resources were devoted to the issue of this guy, Bryza, becoming the ambassador.

  8. Steve..

    Really??? You are using spelling errors as grounds to discredit our sister? Really? is that all you can do?

    At least Manooshag has a brain, do you? Obviously not because if one knows this monster in desguise will not talk about his accomplishments.. maybe accomplishments for stupid errors yes…but as a humanitarian accomplishments, he is worst than the devil.. so please spare me with your high and mighty “i know how to spell and Bryza too” BS and get with the program here..such arrogance..


  9. Frederick.. you may have a point.. but we shall live and see.. i just hope this idiot Bryza makes so many mistakes that not only he will look like an idiot but he will make Obama look like an idiot for nominating him in the first place…

    But these poiticians are foxes, they know how to cover their sticky sh****$***@*@#T…so we will see how it goes.. but i hope you are right.


  10. Bryza seems like the person who follows his wife’s orders very closely.. as I was watching his interview with Boxer and Menendez, he looked sooo sheepish but his wife who was seating behind him looked like she would jump and cut someone’s throat… i am not surprised though…

    it is sad that Obama is putting himself in the ranks of “govt officials without a brain” but what would you expect from someone who in my opinion kisses the muslim countries you know what soooo much that his lips will start getting ugly blisters….

  11. Hye, an Obama, via his persistent choice of an inept and incapable representative of the USA State Department to return as the Ambassador Bryza to the Azeris merely displays his own ineptness… As the leader of the greatest republic the world has known has again shown that the issue of Genocides shall continue on our planet earth – his stance allows Genocides to continue.
    Obama today, again, concurs  that the politics of the issue of Genocides is more to be sought during his adminisntration than to seek the MORALITY in his pursuit of ending the cycle of Genocides, – the inhumanity of humans to humans – slaughters, tortures, rapes, violations, lands stolen and worse… all these continue in Obama’s term of office – even though, lying, he said he would be the president of the USA who would address/recognize the Turkish Genocide of the Armenian nation.  Too, if he had the courage to accomplish this – morally – he should have been recognized more as the USA leader who would recognize the Turkish Genocide of the Armenian nation.  He, the  leader whose efforts would then too, be recognized for seeking to end the cycle of Genocides, of innocents, on the planet earth – forever!
    For then, President Obama of the USA, would be entered in our world history books as the stalwart American leader who stood up and addressed the Turkish leaderships for denying their centuries of abuse of the Armenians – thus ending the cycles of Genocides.  Too, persistent efforts of the Armenians – these nearly 100 years – historically would be recognized as well – for Armenian persistence in having the Ottoman Turks and their subsequent Turk leaderships brought to justice for their crimes against humanity, for their reparations due and owing to Armenians. Then, and only when the gullty are brought to face justice will any despots realize that the cycle of Genocides against humanity, against innocents shall never again appear anywhere, ever again, on the planet earth. IMAGINE! the  cycle of Genocides ended forever! Manooshag

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