U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee postponed a vote on U.S. Ambassador to Azerbaijan-designate Matthew Bryza until after the Senate August recess, largely as a result of the pressure applied against his candidacy by the powerful U.S. Armenian Diaspora.The decision to delay a vote on the Bryza nomination was announced on Tuesday. More than 30 other ambassadorial nominations were approved by unanimous consent.
Matthew Bryza was one of the most visible U.S. officials in the Caucasus region during the administration of former President George W. Bush, serving as deputy assistant secretary of state for European and Eurasian affairs. He was also the U.S. co-chair of the Minsk Group, which seeks to broker a settlement to the dispute between Armenia and Azerbaijan over Nagorno-Karabakh, which broke off from Azerbaijani rule after a war in the 1990s and is populated mainly by ethnic Armenians.
Announced in late May, Bryza’s nomination to fill the vacant post of U.S. ambassador to Baku provoked an angry response from Armenian Diaspora groups and a number of Armenian officials, who accuse Bryza of bias in the Azerbaijani-Armenian dispute.
It was largely a result of Diaspora efforts, that Bryza found himself on the defensive on July 22nd confirmation hearing before the Foreign Relations Committee. A number of senators, U.S. Senators Barbara Boxer (Democrat-California) and Robert Menendez (Democrat-New Jersey) among them, questioned Bryza’s willingness to deliver tough U.S. messages directed at Azerbaijan, and it was eventually Boxer, who blocked the vote on Tuesday.