Ariel Cohen: Alternative to Bryza’s candidacy for ambassador position should cause Baku’s doubt about his impartiality
Azerbaijan, Baku, Aug. 6 / Trend, E.Tariverdiyeva/
Trend interviews Ariel Cohen, The Heritage Foundation's leading expert on Russia, Eurasia and international energy security
Trend: What, in your opinion, are the reasons for the delay of presidential nominee Matthew Bryza's appointment to the post of the U.S. ambassador to Azerbaijan?
Ariel Cohen: Armenian Diaspora states that Bryza's appointment as an ambassador to Azerbaijan contradicts the Armenians' interests. Indeed, I don't quite understand what the appointment of U.S. ambassador has to do with the Armenian community. It seems that the Armenian Diaspora decides whom President Obama should appoint as an ambassador.
Logically, if Bryza's candidature fails to get approval in September, then appointment of any other candidate for this position at the very least should cause Azerbaijan's suspicion about his/her impartiality. This candidate's approval as an ambassador to Azerbaijan by the U.S. Senate Committee on Foreign Relations will simultaneously imply approval of pro-Armenian senators and, accordingly, the Armenian Diaspora.
Q: What are your views about future move of developments with the consideration of Bryza's nomination in the Senate?
A: It is obvious that gaining a respite the Armenian lobby organizations will take every effort to launch a new powerful campaign against Bryza's appointment. I am confident that his appointment will be discussed in the U.S. Congress within the ongoing election campaign in the country.
Still it's necessary to take into account the fact that adjourning discussions over Bryza's candidacy is for benefit of the Armenian lobby. Elections will be held in the U.S. in fall. So, at least 1/3 of senators, and in the upcoming difficult pre-election campaign the two political forces will try to enlist the Armenian lobby's support. Therefore, consideration of Bryza's candidacy either will be postponed to a later date, or he will not be appointed at all for the sake of the Armenian voters.
Q: How could the delay in the appointment of the U.S. ambassador to Baku affect the Azerbaijani-U.S. bilateral relations?
A: Presently, the U.S. does not have an ambassador to one of the key countries of Eurasia, which, to my mind, prevents President Obama to pursue his foreign policy.
The Armenian Diaspora's current behavior can seriously damage the U.S. Administration's policy in the South Caucasus. The Armenian Diaspora groups' activity in the U.S. Congress provokes a conflict between domestic and foreign policy of the United States.
Vacancy for an ambassador position for over a year, as a fact, may cool the U.S.-Azerbaijani relations. In this case, the Armenian Diaspora will achieve its goal, because worsening relations between Washington and Baku was the cherished dream of the Armenian community in the U.S.
It seems while the White House is objectively trying to improve relations with President Ilham Aliyev's Administration, as evidenced by the visits of the Defence Minister Robert Gates and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, the Congress moves in the opposite direction.