State Debate: Armenia, neighbors ponder Kerry’s nomination

State Debate: Armenia, neighbors ponder Kerry’s nomination


The nomination of John Kerry, chairman of the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee, as the Secretary of State has stirred discussion in the South Caucasus. Azeri political analysts predict that the assumption of such a high post by the senator known for his pro-Armenian activities would increase “anti-Azeri” sentiments, while in Armenia hopes aren’t high for such developments.

On December 21, president Barrack Obama nominated Senator Kerry for the country’s top diplomatic post, stressing that the Vietnam war veteran and presidential candidate of 2004 is a “perfect choice to guide American diplomacy.”

The 69-year-old senator from the State of Massachusetts with a large Armenian community, back in the 90s co-authored the Article 907 restricting non-humanitarian US aid to Azerbaijan “for as long as it keeps Armenia in a blockade”.

Kerry actively supported the Armenian Genocide recognition bill, with periodical statements that Turkey has to face its historic mistakes.

On September 5, Kerry said in reference to Azeri murderer Ramil Safarov’s pardon and release, that he was “shocked and appalled” and that “this needlessly provocative act endangers the fragile peace between these countries and damages the government of Azerbaijan’s credibility”.

The Armenian Cause office welcomed Kerry’s possible appointment, stressing that the senator has “supported the Armenian community of America for around three decades in the matters of the US foreign policy”.

Turkey has welcomed Kerry’s candidacy despite his role of an Armenian Genocide recognition advocate. Turkish Zaman reports that foreign minister Ahmed Davutoglu has sent a congratulatory letter. The newspaper explains that Turkey would consider it most unfortunate if the other candidate – U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice had been confirmed. (The ambassador withdrew her nomination under harsh scrutiny by the Senate.)

Neighbouring Azerbaijan has started pessimistic predictions, as vesti.az newspaper reports, that “if Kerry becomes Secretary of State, Azerbaijan would have to resist also America’s pressure in the negotiation process over the Karabakh conflict”.

Vesti.az cited Azeri political analyst Rizvan Huseynov, who said that “Kerry’s activities will lead to an enhanced Russian factor in the Karabakh issue”, because “the United States would want to ‘trade’ with Russia and in exchange for concessions in the South Caucasian issues get support with Iran and Syria”.

Political analyst Rovshan Ibragimov has concerns that “personal fondness of such an elite, top political figure might have an influence on the country’s foreign policy”.

Giro Manoyan, heading the Armenian Revolutionary Federation Bureau’s Armenian Cause Office, also believes that Kerry’s “purely personal attitude towards Armenians might have a certain impact on politics”.

However, Caucasus Institute director Sergey Minasyan believs that Kerry’s nomination “will not be crucial”, because “after assuming such a post personal preferences are usually sidelined”.

“At first sight it’s a desirable for us nomination, however any high-ranking official follows the policy outlined by his/her country administration. True, a favorable for Armenia atmosphere might be formed, and the Azeri leadership might experience a certain sense of restriction, but it can’t play a crucial role,” Minasyan told ArmeniaNow.

Should Kerry’s appointment as Secretary of State be confirmed, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee chairman’s position would likely be given to another pro-Armenian senator, Robert Menendez.