Ara Khachatourian

Thursday, July 29th, 2010

Bryza during Senate hearing

One of the key elements in opposing President Barack Obama's
ambassadorial nominee to Azerbaijan, Matthew Bryza, is the glaring
conflict of interest his wife's position at the Hudson institute
poses to the highest US post in Baku.

During last week's Senate Foreign Relations confirmation hearings,
Bryza went to great lengths to ensure senators that his wife, Turkish
activist Zeyno Baran's position at the Hudson Institute would not
pose a problem. In her professional capacity, Baran advocates for
Caspian energy issues and interests.

"...we [Bryza and Baran] have also made a choice, made a decision 10
years ago-we've been together a while-to separate our professional
and private lives. So while our thinking may sometimes coincide,
and while Zeyno's positions that she's advocated in the past, do
often reflect U.S. interests, that's a positive, because that's her
natural way of thinking and again that's one of the reasons why we
came together, we see the world in a similar way," Bryza told the
Senate panel in response to an inquiry by Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH)
who was chairing the session.

"That said, Zeyno has undertaken a pledge to refrain from bringing any
issue related to the Hudson Institute before the bureau of European
and Eurasian affairs at the State Department or before the Embassy of
the United States in Baku if I am confirmed. And I, of course, would
maintain the highest ethical standards as I have throughout my career
and would not take up any issue related to the Hudson Institute without
proper authorization of course - if there is some reason for doing
that, but I would have to be authorized from Washington," added Bryza.

In an April 2008 interview with, Baran proclaimed that one's
"personal life should not be confused with state policy," calling
Armenian concerns of conflict of interest that were expressed back
then "groundless." Yet, in the same interview, which is peppered with
pro-Azeri posturing she proclaimed that "even if Armenia recognizes
independence of Nagorno Karabakh, none of the countries, including
its ally Russia, will support it." She also claimed that primarily
"hundreds of Azerbaijani refugees and IDPs would win," in the event
of a resolution to the Karabakh conflict.

What Bryza failed to explain during the July 22 Senate committee
hearings was that between 2002 and 2008, he and his wife have either
worked together or have appeared on the same panels (some funded by
energy corporations and interests in Azerbaijan and Turkey), among
them a 2006 Assembly of Turkish American Associations conference in
Washington and another one the same year organized by the US-Azerbaijan
Chamber of Commerce.*

So, the "decision" that the couple made 10 years ago, as Bryza
testified last week, seems to fraught with exceptions, as the
aforementioned examples are merely a scratch of the surface of their
pro-Turkish/Azeri collusion.

Bryza is not the person who should represent the interests of the
United States in Azerbaijan. He was less than forthcoming during his
hearing and failed to provide concrete responses to concerns voiced
by senators Shaheen, Robert Menendez and Barbara Boxer. His attempts
to circumvent justified concerns of conflict of interest demonstrate
his inability to be forthright and trustworthy-a clear detriment to
US interests abroad.

For all the effort to undo the mistakes of his predecessor, it was
unclear why Obama chose a Bush-era vestige as his choice to lead US
interests in Baku, but now the Senate has the opportunity to correct
that misguided error.

* The list below is a mere representation of their joint work
that clearly contradicts their claims separating their private and
personal lives:

October 2008 Baran interviewed Bryza for her paper, titled, "Security
Aspects of the South Stream Project" advocating the Nabucco energy

December 2007 Hudson Institute's Center for Eurasian Policy (directed
by Zeyno Baran) joint conference, titled "Azerbaijan-Turkey and
the U.S.

Relationship" organized with the Baku-based Azerbaijan-Turkey Business
Association, and the Central Asia-Caucasus Institute. (This conference
featured many speakers from Azerbaijan and Turkey, but only two from
the U.S. government, one of these being Matthew Bryza. The official
"Events Summary and Conclusions" of the conference sharply attacked the
Armenian Diaspora for seeking worldwide commemoration of the Armenian
Genocide.) - Baran was the moderator of a panel on "Energy Security"
-Bryza participated in the same panel discussion on "Energy Security"

October 2007 Vilnius Energy Security Conference 2007: Responsible
Energy for Responsible Partners Outcomes and Next Steps.

-Baran discussed energy outcomes and future steps as part of a panel
discussion -Bryza discussed energy outcomes and future steps as part
of the same panel

November 2006 Assembly of Turkish American Associations (ATAA)
conference in Washington, DC - Baran discussed Energy Corridors as
part of a panel on "Silk Road Transportation - Energy Corridors"
- Bryza discussed the State Department View as part of a panel on
"Silk Road Transportation- Energy Corridors"

August 2006 Bled Strategic Forum conference titled "Energy and Climate
Change: Synergy for the Future" in Slovenia.

- Baran participated in a panel discussion on "EU-Caspian Energy
Corridor after the Recent Events in Georgia."

- Bryza participated in the same panel discussion on "EU-Caspian
Energy Corridor after the Recent Events in Georgia."

April 2006 US-Azerbaijan Chamber of Commerce conference in Washington,
DC, titled: "US-Azerbaijan Strategic Alliance Conference - Political
and Commercial Priorities" - Baran discussed "Prospects of the
Eurasian Transportation Corridor" - Bryza discussed "The Dynamics of
US-Azerbaijan Relations"

November 2005 Bryza and Baran attended a November 22 and 23, 2005
conference in Tbilisi Georgia on " Europe's New Wave of Liberation:
Democracy and Transformation."

October 2005 Conference organized by the America-Georgia Business
Council on the topic of: "Georgia: Potential for Growth."

- Baran moderated a panel discussion - Bryza discussed "Georgia in
the context of US policy for the Black Sea"

April 2005 Black Sea Security Program; Conference held in Washington,

- Baran discussed "Turkey, EU and Regional Security" - Bryza discussed
National Security issues

March 2005 National Democratic Institute sponsored a conference on a
"Study Mission for the Democracy Committee of Turkish Parliament"
in Washington, DC.

-Baran discussed US security in the Black Sea -Bryza discussed National
Security issues

October 2004 Both contributed to the article, "Talking Turkey: A
Private Perspective on Public Diplomacy" written by Network 20/20
delegation to Turkey

May 2002 Black Sea Security Program; Conference held in Washington, DC.

-Baran moderated "The United States View on the Black Sea Region and
its Security Challenges" -Bryza discussed "Regional Policy/Energy
and Conflict in the Caucasus/Caspian Energy"

From: A. Papazian