TODAY.AZ / Voice of Diaspora

U.S. Azeris Network Executive Director: Armenian lobby seeks to undermine Matthew Bryza's appointment as ambassador to Azerbaijan

07 July 2010 [14:23] - TODAY.AZ
Day.Az interview with Adil Bagirov, co-founder and Executive Director of US Azeris Network (USAN), candidate of political sciences.
What are your comments on American lawmakers’ decision to allocate 10 million dollars to separatist Nagorno-Karabakh?  

The decision of the Subcommittee on Appropriations of the Lower House of Congress must still undergo the procedure of approval in the committee itself, then the general vote of the House of Representatives, then approval of the Congress, and finally be signed by the president, who can give instructions on incomplete appropriation of funds alocated. Therefore, as a minimum, funds can also be cut down, and this issue will remain on the agenda until October.

U.S. Azeris have actively opposed to the Armenian lobby in this issue for several years. For example, USAN members write thousands of letters to Congress and newspapers and meet with Congress members. USAN leadership and other Azerbaijani-American organizations write to co-chairs of the subcommittee and the Committee on Appropriations of the U.S. House of Representatives.

However, taking into account the inequality of forces both in terms of number and financial resources of the Armenian Diaspora and its organization, it is difficult to achieve a breakthrough in this important issue in the short term. The result is obvious given the close coordination of Armenian diaspora organizations and help of Armenians across the world, presence of the Armenian diaspora in the U.S. for more then a century, as well as a popular understanding of importance of political participation and political education among the Armenians, regardless of their nationality, age or education.

According to experts, recently Azerbaijan has been discontent with U.S. policy on the Karabakh issue. Can a decision to assist Karabakh separatists deepen the distrust?

Undoubtedly, allocating funds to Azerbaijan's Armenia-occupied lands since 1998 has been matter of frustration and anger among Azerbaijanis. I should note that this is not a matter of delight in the U.S., too. Many congressmen and senators, who learn about what is happening through the fault of a small but active group of pro-Armenian members of Congress, oppose it vehemently and write letters to members of the Committee and the Subcommittee on Appropriations.

But a handful of pro-Armenian congressmen are able to usurp the process and harm U.S. interests and foreign policy. I understand that it looks strange and even improbable. It seems that one hand does not know what the other one does and even opposes to it. But this is so.

How do you assess the recent Baku trip of U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton? Could this visit eliminate Baku’s distrust towards regional policy of the United States?

Hillary Clinton got an opportunity to discuss all issues with all countries in the region once again.  It is also a good chance for both benign pressure on irrational Armenian government and to establish ties with the U.S. and cementing leadership of Azerbaijan in the region. It is also important to understand that the U.S. has questions to Azerbaijan, therefore there should be frank and friendly dialogue. If the parties approach the dialogue formally, then the results will be formal.

What, in your opinion, is the reason for the fundamental differences between the main (English) version of the statement by the presidents of the OSCE Minsk Group co-chairing countries and the Russian version?

I would not attach too much importance to attempts to appease ultra-nationalists and chauvinists of Armenia, which basically read the Russian-language press. The main text is exactly English, so inaccurate translations into other languages are not important. It would be interesting to see how, for example, Armenpress translated the declaration to the Armenian language.

What do you think of Matthew Bryza’s appointment as U.S. ambassador to Azerbaijan?

U.S. Azerbaijanis support Matthew Bryza’s candidacy, because they think absence of American ambassador to Azerbaijan for a year is absolutely wrong. As soon as Obama nominated Bryza as ambassador, the U.S. Azeris Network launched a campaign to send letters to the Senate, the White House and the media to speed up approval of Bryza’s appointment to this new and very important post.

This is also because the Armenian lobby strongly opposed it and began a counter-campaign. The Armenian community asks the U.S. Senate members to ask questions Bryza on 1915 events and other topics which aims to undermine his candidacy and leave Azerbaijan without the ambassador as long as possible. It is no known that the longer the absence of an ambassador in the country, worse becomes or stagnate the bilateral relations.


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