WASHINGTON — This week, President Barack Obama nominated John A. Heffern to serve as the next ambassador to Armenia, reported the Armenian Assembly of America. The Assembly expects a rigorous Senate confirmation process in themonths ahead.
Current US envoy to Armenia Marie L. Yovanovitch, nominated by former President George W. Bush, will conclude her three-year mission in June.
In the mid-1990s, Heffern worked for former Rep. Doug Bereuter (R-Neb.) who was consistently one of the most pro- Turkish and anti-Armenian representatives to serve in Congress.
Without pre-judging Heffern, the Assembly in a statement suggested he would have a steep hill to climb in explaining and distinguishing his views from those of Bereuter. For example, in 1995-1996, when Heffern was on the International Relations Committee staff, Bereuter voted against several measures aimed to promote not only Armenia’s interests, but human rights interests around the world.
These measures included, most notably, the Humanitarian Aid Corridor Act, which prohibits US economic assistance to any country that impedes or restricts the transfer or delivery of US humanitarian assistance to another country. Heffern’s former boss also voted against an amendment to cut $25 million in aid to Turkey, which was proposed in reference to Turkey’s human rights violations and ongoing blockade of Armenia. Further, the Congressman voted against an amendment to cut aid to Turkey until it had “taken all appropriate steps to honor the memory of the victims of the Armenian Genocide.”
Heffern is a career member of the Senior Foreign Service and currently serves as the deputy chief of mission at the US Mission to NATO in Brussels. Prior to his current post, Heffern served as executive assistant to the Undersecretary for political affairs and deputy chief of mission at the US Embassy in Indonesia. Heffern’s career has also included overseas assignments to Japan, Malaysia, Ivory Coast and Guangzhou, China.