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Armenian-American Group Seeks Scrutiny Of Bryza Nomination

Matthew was previously U.S. deputy assistant secretary of state.

Matthew was previously U.S. deputy assistant secretary of state.

YEREVAN -- An influential Armenian-American group has called for careful scrutiny of the record of a diplomat nominated to be the next U.S. ambassador to Azerbaijan, RFE/RL's Armenian Service reports.

Matthew Bryza until last year was U.S. deputy assistant secretary of state for European and Eurasian affairs, as well as one of three co-chairs of the OSCE's Minsk Group, which oversees negotiations on the Nagorno-Karabakh frozen conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan.

This week Bryza was named the White House choice to become ambassador to Azerbaijan, where Washington has not had an ambassador since July.

In an interview with RFE/RL on May 27, the executive director of the Armenian National Committee of America said the Armenian-American community has "a number of concerns" about Bryza's nomination.

Aram Hamparian said those included Bryza's diplomatic track record and professional conduct "at the various posts he held dealing with the Caucasus region."

He also expressed concerns about what he called Bryza's "flawed idea that there is a hierarchy of values between territorial integrity and self-determination."

That's a reference to two principles invoked by the parties to the conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh, a region of Azerbaijan populated mainly by ethnic Armenians that broke away from Baku in the early 1990s.

While Azerbaijan insists that territorial integrity prevail, the Armenian side is making a case for the right of Karabakh's people to independence under international law.

Hamparian also challenged what he described as Bryza's denialist position on what Armenians consider the first genocide of the 20th century -- the World War I-era mass killings of Armenians by Ottoman Turks.

Parliaments or governments in many countries have recognized the massacres as genocide, but the United States has so far refrained from using the term, which is rejected by Turkey.

Bryza's appointment must be confirmed by the U.S. Senate.

"What we are looking for at this stage is a careful scrutiny, a review of the record, an examination of the testimony, and a chance to take a close look at the answers that Mr. Bryza provides in response to the questions of the hearing," Hamparian said.

"I hope that will help us better understand his qualifications and also the type of leadership that he would provide in this very important post."