By Ruben Meloyan
The United States has named a new, more high-ranking diplomat to run its embassy in Yerevan in the continuing absence of a U.S. ambassador to Armenia, it emerged on Wednesday.
A U.S. embassy official said Rudolf Perina will take over from Anthony Godfrey, the deputy chief of mission, as U.S. charge d’affaires in Yerevan next month.
Unlike Godfrey, Perina has the diplomatic rank of ambassador and has served as U.S. ambassador to former Yugoslavia and Moldova in the past. He is better known in Armenia as the U.S. co-chair of the OSCE’s Minsk Group on Nagorno-Karabakh from 2001-2004.
“Rudolf Perina will arrive in Armenia on July 10,” Tom Mittnacht, head of the U.S. embassy’s public affairs section, told RFE/RL. “He has the rank of ambassador but is coming to Armenia not as an ambassador but as a charge d’affaires.”
Mittnacht said another senior American diplomat, Richard Hoagland, remains President George W. Bush’s ambassador designate to Armenia.
Hoagland’s congressional confirmation continues to be blocked by a pro-Armenian member of the U.S. Senate over his failure to describe as genocide the mass killings of Armenians in Ottoman Turkey. Senator Robert Menendez pledged last April to keep his so-called “hold” on the ambassadorial appointment.
The last U.S. ambassador to Armenia, John Evans, is believed to have been recalled by Washington last year for publicly referring to the 1915-1918 slaughter of some 1.5 million Armenians in the Ottoman Empire as the first genocide of the 20th century. The Bush administration refuses to use the politically sensitive term with regard to the mass killings for fear of antagonizing Turkey, a key U.S. ally.
“By appointing Ambassador Perina as charge d’affaires, the State Department took into account his rich experience and knowledge of Armenia as well as his personal and business ties with top Armenian leaders, which will contribute to continuity in our bilateral relations with Armenia,” Mittnacht said.
(Photolur photo: Rudolf Perina.)