US Political Observers Discuss Matthew Bryza's Nomination PDF Print E-mail
“Matt Bryza is a friend, and I am delighted to hear his nomination finally announced. He'll do a great job, but will face a confirmation hearing with a number of questions,” David Kramer, former US Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, told TURAN’s Washington correspondent. Kramer, who currently serves as Senior Transatlantic Fellow at the German Marshall Fund, also expressed a hope that the new ambassador will be confirmed quickly: “I wish him well.”

 

Washington political observers mainly point out that Matt Bryza’s nomination was announced at a particularly difficult time in US-Azerbaijani relation. Meanwhile, they stress that, as a former Assistant Secretary, Bryza has developed very close relations with Azerbaijani political forces, and this should help him in solving problems.

However, analysts say, before that can happen, Bryza must face some difficult questions from the Senate. The Armenian lobby in the US has already begun a campaign against him, calling upon senators to scrutinize Bryza’s nomination.

Mark Meirowitz, a member of the Board of Directors of the Turkish-American Chamber of Commerce and Industry in New York, who is very familiar with the region, believes that attempts to scuttle the nomination of a very qualified and competent State Department official based on an alleged "bias" - a bias which is, in effect, actual US policy - seem to be ill-advised.

 

“All Americans have the right to petition the government and to challenge governmental actions. However, the following needs to be taken into consideration: it is the President's prerogative to nominate Ambassadors and other key officials. The purpose of the Senate approval of these nominees is to assure that they are qualified for their posts. Mr. Bryza is undeniably qualified,” Meirowitz told TURAN’s Washington correspondent.

 

According to Meirowitz, the Armenian Diaspora’s issues with Bryza appear to be related to US foreign policy, as if by being a Department of State official Bryza is himself the molder and shaper of policy. This is far from reality, as it is the President and Secretary of State who set policy, and the duty and responsibility of state officials to implement that policy.

“The issues related to Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh are extraordinarily complex. These issues are integrally related to the Turkey-Armenia protocols, which are somewhat in a state of limbo, and which the US wants to get back on track. How to reconcile all of the competing pieces on this very complicated chessboard is the task of US foreign relations, as directed by the President through the Secretary of State.

 

“As Ambassador, if approved, Mr. Bryza will be responsible for carrying out US foreign policy. Armenians should direct its concerns about policy to the Secretary of State and to the President, who are ultimately responsible for the direction of US foreign relations, and not try to undermine the ability of the President to appoint Ambassadors, such as Mr. Bryza, in whom he has faith and trust, and who he believes will carry out his policies with ability and dedication,” he said.

“Due to the extreme complexity of this region and the many difficult issues involved, Mr. Bryza would appear to be very well-suited for this post. He knows this region, and Azerbaijan in particular, very well,” Meirowitz added (Turan).

 
Azerbaijani Government Should Develop Thick Skin Against Criticism PDF Print E-mail

TURAN's Washington D.C. correspondent's interview with Mark Meirowitz, a U.S. analyst on Turkey and Caucasus, a member of the Board of Directors of the Turkish-American Chamber of Commerce and Industry in New York.  Mr. Meirowitz is a lawyer, who has been in practice for over 25 years with top law firms.

Q: How would you characterize the U.S. priorities in the South Caucasus, especially Azerbaijan, after the Congressional elections? Will it

impact the policy priorities that the Republicans took control over the House of Representatives?

 

A: I do not expect significant changes in our overall policy which is being guided by the President and the Administration. The priorities are

regional security, energy cooperation, the war in Afghanistan and, of course, Nagorno-Karabakh. The Nagorno-Karabakh issue is related to

the U.S.-Turkey relationship which has been in flux especially over Iran. While Azerbaijan would like Nagorno-Karabakh to be put to the

forefront ahead of the Turkey-Armenia issue, U.S. foreign policy has given priority to the implementation of the Turkey-Armenia Protocols,

and the normalization of relations between Turkey and Armenia.

 

As far as Congress is concerned, the failure to appoint U.S. Ambassadors in Turkey and Azerbaijan because Senators Boxer and Menendez

have put a hold on the appointments of fully qualified nominees needs to be rectified immediately because this interferes with the normal

course of U.S. foreign relations in this very important region. Senator Boxer was re-elected in the recent mid-term elections, and the

Democrats remain in control of the Senate. The objecting Senators need to act responsibly and allow these appointments to proceed. With

respect to Azerbaijan, pressure from the Armenian lobby to stop the appointment of Matthew Bryza, a career diplomat, as U.S. Ambassador

to Azerbaijan, because of his previous views (which as a diplomat he put forth as part of U.S. policy) or because his wife is Turkish (which is

an absurd argument and completely out of touch with the American ethos) has prevented the U.S. from having a very able diplomat on the

ground in Baku to help coordinate the many important issues concerning the U.S. and Azerbaijan.

 

Also, the U.S. should be very wary of Russian efforts to broker a peace deal between Armenia and Azerbaijan. This involvement could mean

expanding Russian power in the region which should be resisted by the United States. Azerbaijan should not rush (because of its frustration

on the pace of events concerning Nagorno-Karabakh) to do a side deal with Armenia under Russian auspices - instead, Baku should allow

the U.S. to solve all of the issues, including Nagorno-Karabakh, in an orderly fashion.

 

Azerbaijani Foreign Minister Mammadyarov recently acknowledged the "open secret that the United States provided Azerbaijan with great

support". Azerbaijan needs to stay on course with the U.S. and support its policies.

 

Q: Democracy and free elections are among the main priorities of the U.S. in Azerbaijan. According to last week’s statement from the State

Department, the parliament elections in Azerbaijan didn't meet the international standards. Is this fact going to influence the relations

between the two countries?

 

A: These human rights and transparency issues will affect the U.S.-Azerbaijani relations but, as with China, the U.S. brings up these human

rights concerns, but the bigger strategic and political issues will overshadow human rights concerns. This does not mean that Azerbaijan

can ignore human rights.

 

Q: For a long time, the U.S. has been demanding Azerbaijan to release two bloggers - this issue was also raised by President Obama during

his September meeting with Aliyev, but they have been released just now. Does such behavior - ignorance of Washington's calls - influence

the relations between two countries?

 

A: The matter of human rights is a very difficult issue. My suggestion is for the Azerbaijani government to develop a thick skin and be more

tolerant of opinion, even if very negative and critical. In America, criticism of our leaders, even going back to the Founding Fathers, was

often scathing. The American view is that political debate and even criticism are healthy expressions of democracy. As Secretary of State

Hillary Clinton said in her joint press conference in Baku with Azerbaijan's Foreign Minister Mammadyarov (held on July 4, 2010, America's

Independence Day), "one thing I love about democracy and I love about America, is that we are very self-critical, and self-reflective, and

keep trying to do better and better..." Azerbaijan should heed this call. What the "donkey bloggers" did in Azerbaijan is mild compared to

the strident rhetoric of even the latest mid-term elections in the U.S. To make free expression a crime punishable by imprisonment is really

not acceptable or even prudent. As Assistant Secretary of State Crowley said in early November, the recent Parliamentary elections in

Azerbaijan did not meet international standards, and Azerbaijan was urged to respect freedom of expression, assembly, and association.

Azerbaijan must chart a new course of expanding freedom of expression because to avoid doing so will prevent Azerbaijan from developing

its full potential, and will continue to interfere with its relations with the U.S. In addition, the human rights issue will continue to be raised by

high-level American leaders, and President Obama did so recently when he met with Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev. Obama urged

Azerbaijan as a young democracy to implement democratic reforms and increase human rights protections, and to release the jailed

bloggers.

 

As a practical matter, however, these human rights issues will be trumped by highly political issues concerning Nagorno-Karabakh, regional

strategic issues, energy cooperation, and the Afghanistan War, to name a few. As for Afghanistan, Baku has been the stalwart ally of the

U.S. and has been recognized as such on numerous occasions by the U.S. President and the Secretary of State.

 

Q: It is no secret that there are both pro-Turkish and pro-Azerbaijani lobbying groups in Washington. But there are some concerns that

because of ignoring democracy, the Azerbaijani government is going to make its lobbyists' job more difficult. Do you agree with that? What

should be done to make the lobbyists' job easier? What would you suggest to the Azerbaijani government?

 

A: As stated above, the leadership in Azerbaijan should be more tolerant of criticism. The Azerbaijani government needs to remove human

rights as an issue by taking steps to allow greater freedom of expression. Otherwise, the human rights issue will continue to interfere with

U.S.-Azerbaijani relations. As for Turkey, its future government policies will help define where Turkey stands on Iran and with respect to

other matters of concern to the U.S.

 

Q: Will the discussions concerning the 1915 events and Nagorno-Karabakh in the Congress be easy for Azerbaijan and Turkey or on the

contrary?

 

A: As for the 1915 events, I am concerned about what will occur in the next Congress concerning the Armenian Genocide Resolution.

Turkey's policies on Iran have muddied the waters and members of the U.S. Congress are wondering and will continue to wonder where

Turkey's focus is (and is heading) and whether there has been a shift in axis. The flotilla incident further disrupted matters, and the

precipitous decline in Turkish-Israeli relations is also a matter of extreme concern to members of the U.S. Congress. How Turkey approaches

the missile shield issue will also have an impact. When the Armenian Genocide issue comes to a vote again in the House Committee in 2011,

there may be pushback from members of Congress who are critical of Turkey's policies toward Iran and Israel (Turan).

 

 
A SPECIAL BRIEFING WITH H.E. STATE MINISTER ZAFER CAGLAYAN PDF Print E-mail

On October 20, 2010, at the Turkish Consulate in Manhattan, some of the members of the Board of Directors of the Turkish American

Chamber of Commerce and Industry (TACCI) had the distinct honor and privilege of meeting with Turkey's Minister of State for Foreign

Trade, Zafer Caglayan.

Minister Caglayan made some remarks about his activities. He then gave those assembled the opportunity to introduce themselves.

TACCI's President Celal Secilmis then briefed the Minister on TACCI's work and he also suggested ways in which TACCI could be an

important and valuable component of the Minister's US-Turkey trade strategy. It was suggested that TACCI would be in a good position to

help implement the objectives and goals that the Minister has charted for the improvement and increase of Turkish-US trade and

investment.

The Minister began his career as a businessman and industrialist in the 1980's. He became chairman of the Ankara Chamber of Industry in

1995 after serving as acting chairman. He served as Vice President of the Union of Chambers and Commodity Exchanges of Turkey (TOBB)

for many years.  Minister Caglayan began his political career in 2007 as an elected MP for Ankara 2nd District. He was appointed Minister of

Trade and Industry, and then assumed the position of Minister of State in May 2009.

The Minister has travelled around the United States to meet with American businessmen (including in Chicago, Los Angeles, Atlanta and

Houston) in order to promote increased bilateral US-Turkey trade and investment. In these meetings with American businessmen, the

Minister is able to apply his years of business experience and talk "businessman to businessman" in a very effective way for the purpose of

promoting his important messsage, that of deepening and diversifying the economic relations between the US and Turkey - and increasing

trade levels with the US.

Prior to the Board briefing, earlier in the same week, Minister Caglayan had given a very important keynote address at the American Turkish

Council Conference in Washington, D.C. In addition, the inaugural meeting of the US-Turkey Framework for Strategic Economic and

Commercial Cooperation also took place in Washington, D.C., attended by Minister Caglayan and Economy Minister Ali Babacan, for

Turkey, and for the United States, the meeting was attended by US
Trade Representative Ron Kirk and US Commerce Secretary Gary Locke.

At our briefing, the Minister demonstrated extraordinary leadership qualities - he is a good listener and is extremely gracious to everyone

(including people like myself who were meeting him in person for the first time.) After listening to the presentation of TACCI President

Secilmis, and the comments of the Board members, the Minister responded with concrete ways in which TACCI could become an integral

part of trade strategy as it affects the US. All of the Board members present were greatly honored by having had the opportunity to have a

private briefing with so distinguished a leader from the government of Turkey.

Also present at the New York TACCI briefing with the Minister were Consul General Mehmet Samsar, Commercial Attache Yavuz Ozutku, as

well as officials from the Turkish Ministry of Trade.
 
 

 
Reset: Iran, Turkey and America’s Future PDF Print E-mail

Stephen Kinzer. Reset: Iran, Turkey and America’s Future. New York:
Times Books, Henry Holt and Company, 2010, 274 pages.

The point of Stephen Kinzer’s book, Reset: Iran, Turkey and America’s
Future is straightforward: rather than continue moribund bilateral relationships
with Israel and Saudi Arabia, the US should embrace a new
“power triangle” consisting of the US, Iran and Turkey (p. 12). The
United States should “build an ever-closer partnership with Turkey and,
in the future, with a democratic Iran” and also “reshape relations with
Israel and Saudi Arabia in ways that will serve their long term interests
and those of the United States—even if they protest” (p. 13). America’s
strong support of Israel and Saudi Arabia was perfectly appropriate during
the Cold War, Kinzer argues, but in the post-Cold War period, a
new strategy is called for. This new approach calls for the United States
to reset American foreign policy and to re-align itself with Turkey and
Iran.

Kinzer provides a very interesting overview of modern Turkish and
Iranian history, demonstrating that in both countries there has been a
strong desire for democracy. The contrast with his discussion of Israel
and Saudi Arabia is marked. While Kinzer speaks in glowing terms
about the rise of the Turkish Republic under Atatürk and Iran’s efforts
toward democracy, his description of Israel’s and Saudi Arabia’s history
is sketchy and somewhat sinister. For example, in a very compressed history
of Israel, he surprisingly focuses on the involvement of Jewish organized
crime figures, and entertainer Frank Sinatra, in the effort to provide
funding to Israel during its war for independence. His discussion of
President Truman’s motivations for supporting recognition of Israel is
woefully compressed, emphasizing the role of Eddie Jacobson, President
Truman’s close friend, in influencing Truman’s pro-Israel policies, but
ignoring, among other important factors, the impact of domestic American
politics and the internal political maneuverings involving Truman
advisor Clark Clifford and Secretary of State George Marshall.

As for Saudi Arabia, Kinzer describes the negative influence of Wahhabi
Islam and how Saudi money has shaped US foreign policy; he finds
it “unsurprising” that 15 of the 19 September 11 hijackers were Saudis
(p. 173). For Kinzer, Iran and Turkey’s longing for democracy make
them “good soul mates for Americans” (p. 11). As for Israel and Saudi
Arabia, for Kinzer, a completely new approach is needed.

What is perplexing is why Kinzer completely gives up on Saudi Arabia,
a close American ally; instead, without any concrete basis, he hopes
for a resurgence of democracy in Iran and an Iranian alliance with the

United States. In light of Iran’s current moves toward becoming a nuclear
power, it is precisely Israel and Saudi Arabia that can act as a bulwark
against this dangerous development. It was recently reported that Saudi
Arabia tested lowering its radar in anticipation of the possibility of an
Israeli attack on Iranian nuclear sites. The US Administration has proposed
a $60 billion arms package to Saudi Arabia, which is in large part
intended to counter Iran. The fact is that Israel and Saudi Arabia are
close and reliable allies of the United States, and that precisely because
of Iran’s actions, both of these allies of the US may be called upon by the
US to respond to a palpable Iranian threat.

Given the brutal suppression of democracy in Iran and its belligerent
actions throughout the world, how can Iran serve as an ally of the United
States, as Kinzer proposes? Kinzer provides nothing more than his hope
for such a development. As for Turkey, there is good reason to hope that
America’s ally—a NATO member and a major regional power—will
continue to ally itself with the United States. Recently, however, this is
somewhat doubtful, given Turkey’s “no” vote in the UN Security Council,
opposing sanctions against Iran (supported by President Obama and
all of the other permanent members of the Security Council), and the
support of the Turkish leadership for Hamas. The overwhelming victory
of the Turkish government in the recent referendum will hopefully
lead to a march forward to democracy, but might have the opposite result.


The United States can and should have strong and vibrant relations
with Turkey, Israel and Saudi Arabia, and the US does not need to abandon
its strong support for Israel and Saudi Arabia for a new power triangle
with Iran and Turkey, as Kinzer suggests. The Iranian prong of his
US-Iran-Turkey triangle is one that, in light of the current regime and
its policies, has no likelihood of leading to an alliance with the US. On
the contrary, the US should be able to count on Turkey, Israel and Saudi
Arabia to counter Iran’s future nuclear ambitions.

 

 

 
Interview of Turan with the US analyst on Turkey issue Mark Meirowitz, a member of the Board of Directors of the Turkish-American Chamber of Commerce and Industry in New York. PDF Print E-mail

    Question: Releasing a statement on April 24th --the date Armenians commemorated 1915 incidents - US President Barack Obama did not use the expression "genocide" for the incidents. Instead, he used Armenian expression "Meds Yeghern", meaning "great tragedy". How will it influence the negotiations over establishment Turkish-Armenian relations and Nagorno-Karabakh adjustment process? Also how do you believe all sides should behave after that?

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