Is it possible to say that ratification of Bryza's candidacy in the Senate Committee proves US leadership starts to take more account of its national interests rather than the anti-Azerbaijani lobbying of the Armenian diaspora?
I would avoid this interpretation. The fact that the US ambassador position in Azerbaijan has remained vacant for more than a year is not an indicator that the US government bowed to anti-Azerbaijan lobbying of the Armenian diaspora, nor an indicator that the US government didn't pursue its national interests in Azerbaijan. The long-lasting vacant US ambassador position in Azerbaijan has been mainly due to extremely intensive and challenging domestic socio-economic, political and international agenda of Barack Obama's administration, who have been battling with vital domestic economic issues, on-going economic crisis, high unemployment rates, mid-term elections to Congress, war in Iraq and Afghanistan, rapidly changing global environment of USA and numerous global issues pending their immediate solutions. US foreign relations service (covering embassies) is an institutionalized body of the US government and it may effectively function with and without the Ambassador in duty, as it has been the case in Azerbaijan. I also fail to see what Armenian diaspora in the US would have won / gained from vacant US ambassador position in Azerbaijan. Sooner or later, whether Armenian diaspora likes it or not, a US Ambassador will be appointed to Azerbaijan who will be just one out of many to be appointed in the future. What may be different are faces or people representing US in Azerbaijan, but as I said in my previous interview, to a greater extent, institutionalized and well-defined national interests of the US government does not depend on people, neither on approach or world vision of appointed civil servants, who usually enjoy very limited scope for influencing US - Azerbaijan relations. Nevertheless, of course host governments including the government of Azerbaijan would have wished to work with an ambassador who is predictable, professional and who enjoy good relations with influential members of political elites in the region and outside.
What do you think has prompted this protest of the Armenian diaspora against Bryza's candidacy?
The Armenian diaspora in the US is well connected to Armenian governments. They usually coordinate their approach and activities to get the most out of very dynamic and highly complicated political, economic and international processes going on in the region and the world. They rightly do so and need this coordination and collaboration, because both of them share many common goals including independence to Nagorno-Karabakh or its unification with Armenia, Great Armenia from the Sea (referring to Black Sea) to Sea (Caspian Sea), at worst massive reparations from Turkey, at best land concessions from Turkey, Georgia, Iran and Azerbaijan to achieve the two-century dream of Great Armenia, etc. I think in this specific case, the relentless attitude of the Armenian diaspora towards M. Bryza's nomination is ordered and managed by the Armenian government, who apparently perceived Bryza being pro-Azerbaijan during his several years of service as one of the co-chairs of the Minsk Group.
Of course, another major reason is the fact that the Armenian diaspora organizations, who claim to be representing the Armenian diaspora in the US, have to justify their existence and demonstrate results per each dollar they have collected from the Armenian diaspora and substantial economic resources they continue requesting them to contribute. We should not forget that these organizations have huge budgets, which also command significant political capital and weight for those in command of these organizations, who are usually Armenian Americans with political ambitions. So they have to show some actions and results to the Armenian Americans to sustain their legitimacy and the economic and political power that comes with it. In this case, Matthew Bryza happens to be also unlucky, being in the wrong place, at the wrong time, with the wrong people.
Do you believe that the Senate will finally ratify Bryza's candidacy?
For the time being this seems to be hard. As you know two Senators have placed a hold on nomination of Mr. Bryza. As of now, only active, intensive and committed interventions and support of the majority leader in the Senate, or Barack Obama or the US administration can save Mattew Bryza's nomination. This is usually what happens in the case of vital and major legislation or critical appointments to which a hold was placed. However, this time the situation seems much more serious, because the US administration is too busy with numerous critical and urgent political, international and economic policy issues. Also it should be noted that during his tenure at the White House, Barack Obama is challenged with more Senator holds compared to his predecessor, George W. Bush. For a flavor, just imagine that during 17 months of George W. Bush 100 judicial nominees were appointed, versus nine judicial nominees during Obama's 9 months in the office.
Can Bryza be considered the most competent diplomat at the post of the US ambassador?
There are no irreplaceable people on earth. I would say that he is one of the most competent nominee to the US Ambassador position in Azerbaijan. He has in-depth knowledge of the region, problems of the region, political and economic processes, plus personal relations with influential members of political elites of the region.
Do you expect the intensification of the US role in the Karabakh settlement, especially in the case of ratification of such experienced diplomat as Bryza in the resolution of this problem on the post of the US envoy in Baku?
My opinion is that US and other big powers of the world are very occupied and will remain occupied with their own domestic socio-economic problems, global economic crisis, war on global terrorism, and other global challenges in the near to medium-term. Compared to these challenges and problems, the scale and importance of Azerbaijan - Armenia conflict and the national interests at stake in this conflict are too low to command increasing attention from global powers including USA, EU and others. The most involved and interested in Azerbaijan - Armenia conflict are and will remain regional powers such as Russia, Turkey and Iran due to their proximity to the region and direct economic and political interests at stake. In the medium-term, only Azerbaijan is interested in the solution of this conflict and liberation of its occupied territories and only Azerbaijan alone will have interests and can develop the economic & military power to solve this conflict in favor of Azerbaijan's interests restoring long-waited justice for its own citizens.