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Trump’s New Ambassador To Azerbaijan Arrives In Baku

By Mushvig Mehdiyev March 14, 2019

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Ambassador Earle Litzenberger addresses a speech during the meeting with the American and Azerbaijani staff of the U.S. Embassy in Baku, March 12, 2019 / Facebook page of the U.S. Embassy in Baku

U.S. President Donald Trump’s envoy to the Republic of Azerbaijan, Earle Litzenberger, presented his credentials to the President Ilham Aliyev on Tuesday to take up his new diplomatic position in Baku.

Trump nominated Litzenberger, a resident of California, in September of last year. Litzenberger was confirmed by the United States Senate on January 2 and was sworn in on March 6.

“I’m honored to be the new U.S. ambassador to Azerbaijan,” Litzenberger said in a video address posted on March 6 on the website of the U.S. Embassy in Baku. “The United States and Azerbaijan have a strong partnership.”

“Our countries have worked together over twenty-five years in important areas such as security, energy, and economic growth, and democratic development. As ambassador, I will work to strengthen all aspects of our bilateral relationship and find new areas of cooperation.”

Prior to submitting his credentials to President Aliyev on Tuesday, Ambassador Litzenberger spoke with the Azerbaijani and American staff at the U.S. Embassy in Baku, explaining why their role is important in fostering strong ties between the United States and Azerbaijan.

Litzenberger is the twelfth U.S. ambassador to Azerbaijan, which regained its independence from the USSR in 1991 when the Soviet Union collapsed. Robert Finn was the first envoy in 1992, while Robert Cekuta, whose tour of duty ended in March 2018 following three years of service, was Litzenberger’s predecessor.

Before being appointed as Trump’s envoy to Azerbaijan, Litzenberger was a Senior Advisor in the Bureau of Political-Military Affairs at the State Department in Washington. His diplomatic career includes also tours as the Deputy Chief of Mission to the U.S. Mission to NATO; the U.S. embassy in Belgrade, Serbia; and the U.S. embassy in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan.

Political analysts started weighing in on Litzenberger’s role once he assumes his position in Baku, shortly after Trump announced his nomination in September.

Elkhan Shahinoglu, head of the Baku-based Atlas Research Center think tank, believes that Litzenberger’s services will give impetus to the development of relations between Azerbaijan and the U.S.

"The US-Azerbaijani relations are mainly focused on four directions - economic, security, fighting against terrorism, and energy," Shahinoglu told Yenicag.az. "Although in recent years the energy sector remains to be the main axis of mutual relations, the United States appreciates Azerbaijan's participation as a Muslim country in the fight against international terrorism."

"Azerbaijani peacekeepers have served within the international coalition in Kosovo and are on the same duty in Afghanistan today. Washington considers it serious support from Baku. From that point of view, it is possible that the new ambassador’s contributions will give impetus to deepening mutual relations, first of all, in the energy sector."

"However, I do not think that with the arrival of the new ambassador, the role of the United States in the settlement of the Karabakh conflict will increase. It should be noted that the United States has given Russia the initiative in the settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict over the past twenty years."