US Azerbaijanis lobby ambassador-designate's opponents

Tue 28 Sep 2010 03:22 GMT | 07:22 Local Time

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The US Azeris Network has written to Senator Barbara Boxer over her opposition to the appointment of Matthew Bryza as US ambassador to Azerbaijan.

The Senate Foreign Relations Committee on 21 September voted to approve President Obama's nominee, Matthew Bryza, as US envoy in Baku.

However, after the sitting Senator Boxer and fellow Senator Robert Menendez, placed a hold on the appointment, effectively meaning the Senate is unlikely to approve Bryza before the recess for the 2 November elections.

“Your placing of a hold – twice – on President Obama’s nominee for the position of US ambassador to Azerbaijan, Mr Matthew Bryza, has greatly surprised and disappointed the Azerbaijani-American community, who are active members of the US Azeris Network (USAN), the largest Azerbaijani-American grassroots advocacy organization, and on whose behalf we are writing to you to express our sentiment as a community,” the diaspora letter said, as reported by APA.

The letter expressed concern at Senator Boxer’s recent statements in the Senate about the Armenian-occupied Nagorno-Karabakh region of Azerbaijan.

“These statements are not only insulting to the Azerbaijani-American community, but also go against the official position of the US government, go against the facts on the ground. We hope that you are not kowtowing to Armenian special interest groups such as the ANCA [Armenian National Committee of America], with its leaders such as its former Chairman Mourad Topalian, convicted of terrorism charges, in light of the election year.”

The letter said that Bryza, an experienced and professional diplomat nominated by President Obama to be the next ambassador to Azerbaijan, had been taking criticism from both Azerbaijan and Armenia for many years. Neither side considers him their supporter, the letter continued.

The diaspora is also concerned about Boxer’s allegation in the Senate about “increasing Azerbaijani aggression against Nagorno-Karabakh”. The letter reminds the senator, that “Nagorno-Karabakh” is not an independent state, but an integral region of Azerbaijan, and that that region along with several others has been illegally occupied by the Armenian military for some two decades.

“We value your serving of your constituents and appreciate your responses to the Azerbaijani-American community, however, we would like you to closely examine your statements in the future and do a more thorough research on Azerbaijan and US-Azerbaijan allied relations,” the letter said.

The Azerbaijani diaspora has also sent a similar letter to Colorado Senator Michael Bennet.

Bryza's candidacy is opposed by Armenian lobby groups in the USA. They say that as deputy assistant secretary of European and Eurasian affairs and an OSCE mediator on the Karabakh conflict, Matthew Bryza showed bias towards Azerbaijan.




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