Matthew Bryza’s candidacy on the post of USA Ambassador in Azerbaijan put forward by the President B. Obama, after many delays, on September 22 was put to a vote in the US Senate Committee on Foreign Relations. The turnout of the 19 members of the Committee: 17 of them approved the candidacy of Bryza. Should be recalled that July 22 this year M. Bryza candidacy has already been considered by the Committee, the majority of it voted against his appointment to the same post. Moreover, afterwards, Senate Majority Leader, Harry Reid sent a letter to the U.S. State Department expressing the bewilderment about the proposal to appoint Bryza and thoroughly examine his candidacy.
However, US democracy clearly suffers from flaws, and same Committee two months later voted for M. Bryza’s candidacy. This fact doesn’t mean that Bryza could consider himself as Ambassador, yet. The issue is not in the fact that US Senate plenary Session should approve his nomination: traditionally Senate approves any candidacy that passed Committee’s "sieve”. There is another problem for M. Bryza: the decision US Senate Committee on Foreign Relations has vetoed by the member of the same Committee, Barbara Boxer.
In order to understand the meaning of Ms. Boxer’s official statement we should remember that in 2006, Senator Robert Menendez blocked the nomination of Richard Hoagland to the post of US Ambassador to Armenia. After several months of arduous negotiations, White House replaced Hoagland's nomination. There were two Committee members who voted against Bryza candidacy; one of them is the same R. Menendez, who still has time to impose his own veto. Thus, it could be predicted with certain degree of confidence that Bryza candidacy won’t be displayed on the US Senate plenary Session. To do so, B. Boxer should withdraw her veto (with the fact that R. Menendez won’t veto), or if Boxer would loose on Senate reelections this November. In another case, Bryza has no hope for the post of Ambassador.
M. Bryza is a well-known person in Caucasus – he doesn’t need any special presentations, nevertheless, some facts of his biography deserved our focused attention. His name appeared in our region for the first time after his appointment to a post of Deputy Assistant Secretary, Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs. The Bryza’s main responsibility was "pipeline politics”: he was supposed to support Russia’s isolation in choice of oil and gas pipelines routes from Caspian region to Europe. Few years later, Bryza was also appointed as US Cochairman of OSCE Minsk group on Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. All these years he practically combined both of the positions.
Bryza, quite energetic and excessively talkative diplomat, managed to achieve great influence in the region. Georgian opposition, referring to his almost unlimited influence on Saakashvili, nicknamed him "Georgia’s director”. Bryza got glorified by his confused and calculated on the audience mutually exclusive statements. In Armenia he said one thing, while in Azerbaijan the opposite. Journalists in Baku and Yerevan joked: Bryza will arrive and he’ll explain why he was misunderstood. We should not strictly judge this man, perhaps that’s the "diplomacy” he was taught at an American university.
On the other hand, the US Armenian lobby could not ignore the fact of Bryza’s family and financial ties with Anatolian and Transcaucasian Turks. And the matter is not even in the fact that Bryza married Turkish woman, Baran by being the OSCE Cochairman of Minsk Group. The problem is much naughtier: as asserted "Azadlik”, main expenses for Bryza-Baran wedding were assigned on Heydar Babayev, Minister of Economic Development of Azerbaijan. The expenses were assigned (exact word) by the President of Azerbaijan I. Aliyev. It’s also interesting that one of the witnesses on Bryza-Baran wedding was the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Azerbaijan E. Mamedyarov. Finally, half of Azerbaijani government attended the wedding in Istanbul. It is worth to mention, that one of the coauthors of the article in "Azadlik” – the chief editor Ganimat Zahid - soon found himself in a prison, the other one - Agil Khalil - after four attempts on its life, was forced to flee Azerbaijan and settled in France.
The law-enforcement structures of Russia also have some questions to Bryza. The questions are not about his accusations against the Kremlin on Russia’s participation in the August war of 2008. August 18, 1997 in Moscow, the young employee of US embassy in Russia, Matthew Bryza, driving the car knocked down a woman to death. The law-enforcement authorities failed to investigate the incident or even to check the alcohol in Bryza’s blood; since few hours later Bryza flew to USA to never return. In the car together with Bryza was a woman, her identity got never set. However, the witness concealment same as Bryza’s refusal from the investigation are very eloquent facts.
Frankly, I personally won’t mind if M. Bryza would become the US Ambassador to Azerbaijan. Bryza, politically unscrupulous, involved in the criminal-corruption scandal, is the right person, who doesn’t care about USA, Azerbaijan or Turkey interests. There was, in the "independent” history of Azerbaijan, the US Ambassador - Stanley Escudero – who remained in Baku after the end of his service period. Today, Escudero is successful Azerbaijani businessman, who deprived hundreds (without any exaggerations) of Azerbaijan families of their homes. Escudero lives in Baku together with his wife and sons Alexander and Benjamin; Benjamin was already married, by his enterprising daddy, on the rich Azerbaijani woman, the heiress of millions of Nadir Nazarov and now deceased Salman Dzhebrailov, who bequeathed their Nigyar 30 hectares of land in coastal Nardaran.
Bryza - same Escudero, but younger and better informed about the oil and gas projects and opportunities of Azerbaijan. For this reason some US circles perceive his appointment as Ambassador in Baku as an investment in the oil and gas industry of Azerbaijan. The matter – what USA will win of it? – remains hanging in the air. In this sense, Senators B. Boxer and R. Menendez demonstrate much grater patriotism and integrity, than those, who deprived of healthy sleep by the oil deposits under the Caspian Sea.
However, Bryza without the appointment to the post of US Ambassador can move to live to Baku. He has suitable in all respects Baran, and fixed ties in oil and gas companies of the world, operating in circum Caspian region. Moreover, family ties in the highest political circles of Azerbaijan. Finally, is Bryza worse than the old rascal Escudero?