Armenia and Azerbaijan will be starting 2019 with two new U.S. ambassadors following the Senate’s January 2nd confirmation of Lynne Tracy and Earle Litzenberger to the postings - a vote taken following sustained Senate Foreign Relations Committee scrutiny of U.S. policy on the Armenian Genocide, Azerbaijan’s regional aggression and domestic crackdowns, and other key priorities, reported the Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA).
“Following a year of peaceful political transition and democratic progress in Armenia, the Armenian National Committee of America looks forward to working with Ambassador Tracey in the New Year to upgrade U.S.-Armenia strategic relations,” stated ANCA Executive Director Aram Hamparian. “We look to our new ambassador in Baku to forcefully challenge Aliyev’s anti-Armenian violence and openly confront his regime’s worsening crackdown on domestic dissent.”
The Senate confirmation vote for Ms. Tracy and Mr. Litzenberger comes after bi-cameral praise for Armenia’s Parliamentary elections held December 9th, and a call by the Congressional Armenian Caucus leadership to Secretary of State Pompeo for the elevation of U.S.-Armenia strategic bilateral ties through the U.S.-Armenia Joint Economic Task Force.
The December 18th Armenian Caucus letter stressed that “support for a comprehensive democratic transition will secure needed progress in the economic realm, where we encourage you to prioritize a long overdue Tax Treaty, Social Security Agreement, expanding duty-free products, Debt-for-Forestation swaps, non-stop LAX to EVN flights, trade missions, and other related initiatives.”
Ms. Tracy’s approval comes in the wake of intense questioning by Senators Bob Menendez (D-NJ) and Ed Markey (D-MA) regarding the U.S. policy of complicity in Turkey’s obstruction of justice for the Armenian Genocide. Ms. Tracy, while stating that “The Trump Administration and I personally acknowledge the historical facts of what took place at the end of the Ottoman Empire – of the mass killings, the forced deportations and marches that ended 1.5 million lives and a lot of suffering,” stopped short of properly characterizing the crime as genocide.
During the October 4th confirmation hearing, Senator Menendez grilled Mr. Litzenberger about President Aliyev’s “bellicose rhetoric and sporadic outbursts of violence,” securing from the nominee a commitment that he would urge the Azerbaijani government to step back from any threatening behavior that disrupts the line of contact.