DE FACTO Information-Analytics Agency: OSCE Minsk group U. S. Co-Chair Matthew Bryza is getting married. He is going to marry a Turk, Zeyno Baran – the Director of the Center for Eurasian Policy at the Hudson Institute. By the way, she had occupied the same position at the Nixon Institute before; however, she was fired because of too aggressive pro-Turkish activity. According to her boss, the Institute needs analytics, not propagandists. Both Bryza and Baran graduated from Stanford University. They have common interests, specializing in Caucasus and energy policy. Baran and Bryza have been living in ‘’civil’’ marriage for many years. As it is known, Bryza does not have the rank of Ambassador, however, he actually directs the works of the U. S. Embassies in Armenia, Georgia an Azerbaijan. It was Bryza (or Baran?) who insisted that the U. S. Ambassador to Armenia John Evans be fired. Evans has got in Bryza’s (or Baran’s?) bad books for mentioning Armenian Genocide in Turkey.
In Wikipedia, Zeyno Baran is presented as a “respected scholar on issues ranging from US-Turkey relations to Islamist ideology to energy security in Europe and Asia”, with particular specialisation - “countering Islamist ideology.”
On the other hand, a year ago US leftist Harper's magazine (29 September 2006) published an interesting article about Zeyno Baran which may help to get hint on her ideological stance:
"Bryza's longtime paramour Zeyno Baran has worked for several think tanks, including the Hudson Institute, where she is currently employed. Baran, it appears, has never met a Caspian dissident whom she didn't dismiss as an Islamist terrorist. In a 2004 interview with the Washington Times, she noted that a recent suicide bomber in Uzbekistan had been female and predicted that “the next set of attacks in the United States will use blonde, blue-eyed women.” Along with Fred Starr of the Central Asia and Caucasus Institute, Baran earlier this year presented a propaganda video prepared by the Uzbek government to counter widespread condemnation of the 2005 Andijan massacre. "
However naive it may sound, but today’s news from DeFacto may give us a clue and at least partially explain Bryza’s increasingly pro-Azerbaijani rhetoric in Karabakh negotiation process and pro-Turkish stance in Armenia-Turkey issue, although I must say that his long-term relationship with Zeyno Baran was never a secret. Surely, for professional diplomats, personal life remains or should remain personal, and not marriage but US administration shapes Bryza’s actions. However, we are all human beings, and the impact of personal relationships (and we are talking here about marriage to Baran!) is known to have significant role in politics.
Merriam-Webster’s dictionary: conflict of interest - a conflict between the private interests and the official responsibilities of a person in a position of trust.
Wikipedia: A conflict of interest is a situation in which someone in a position of trust, such as a lawyer, insurance adjuster, a politician, executive or director of a corporation or a medical research scientist or physician, has competing professional or personal interests. Such competing interests can make it difficult to fulfill his or her duties impartially.
It seems very current to me to re-read what Nouvelles d’Armenia was reported a year ago (10 August 2006) about Bryza-Baran link and its impact on Armenia related issues:
"… Mr. Bryza’s long-time partner is a woman by the name of Zeyno Baran. Normally, it would be inappropriate to drag a diplomat’s personal life into a political commentary. In this case, however, there are special circumstances that justify such a reference. Ms. Baran herself has introduced her personal relationship with Mr. Bryza into the public domain on several occasions, by openly referring to her ties with him. In her speeches and reports, she often thanks Mr. Bryza for giving her "tremendous intellectual and personal support." They often lecture together at various venues both in the U.S. and overseas.
Ms. Baran, a native of Turkey, is opposed to various Armenian issues, including the recognition of the Armenian Genocide. On March 8, 2005, as the Director of International Security and Energy Programs for the Nixon Center, she told the Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee that she is opposed to the congressional resolution on the Armenian Genocide. "Given the prevalent Turkish view that the U.S. is running a campaign against Turkey, it would be very damaging if the Armenian Genocide resolution passed Congress this year," Baran testified. "This year is the 90th anniversary of the tragic 1915 massacre and certainly Armenian Diaspora groups would like to get recognition. However, such a resolution would play right into the hands of the growing set of anti-Americans and ultra-nationalists in Turkey," she said.
Last week, in an interview with the Mediamax news agency, Ms. Baran, now the Director of the Center for Eurasian Policy at the Hudson Institute, defended Mr. Bryza’s partial release of the documents on the Artsakh [Karabakh] negotiations. She also said that she still believes what she told the Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee last year that "the strength of Armenian Diaspora limits U.S. ability to encourage democratic change in Armenia."
It is no wonder that during a trip to Turkey last year, Mr. Bryza unabashedly declared : "I am thrilled to be back in Turkey. Turkey in many ways feels for me like a second home.... I can’t spend enough time in your beautiful country. I hope to be back soon and often." One would hope that Mr. Bryza would soon realize his wish and retire in Turkey permanently! "