BAKU (RFE/RL) — Matthew Bryza, the new US ambassador to Azerbaijan, vowed to strengthen ties between the two countries late on Sunday as he arrived in Baku after a grueling congressional confirmation process held up by Armenian groups in the United States.
“We are sorry it took as long to get here, but as we say in American English, it’s better late than never,” Bryza said as he and his Turkish-Armenian wife Zeyno Baran carrying their newborn child stepped out of the Baku airport. “It is a great honor to return now to Baku as the United States ambassador to Azerbaijan.”
“We so look forward to strengthening the friendship between our two countries and deepening our cooperation to strengthen peace, prosperity and democratic institutions,” he told journalists after greeting them in Azerbaijani.
Bryza is due to hand his credentials to Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev later this week. He said the ceremony will also be a “great honor” for him.
President Barack Obama announced unilateral “recess appointments” of Bryza and three other US ambassadors in late December after failing to secure their endorsement by the US Senate.
Obama nominated Bryza’s candidacy for the vacant ambassadorial post in Baku about a year ago. It met with strong resistance from some Armenian-American groups and their backers in the Senate. Two Democratic senators, Barbara Boxer and Robert Menendez, placed a “hold” on a full Senate vote on the nomination in September.