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Ambassador in Baku: Politics, Petroleum, & Nagorno-Karabakh

  • December 10, 2020
  • 6:30 PM - 8:00 PM

Registration is closed

The San Diego World Affairs Council is honored to present our very own, former US Ambassador to Azerbaijan, Reno Harnish for the presentation:

"Ambassador in Baku: Politics, Petroleum, & Nagorno-Karabakh"


University of California, San Diego Professor Jesse Driscoll


Department of State Foreign Service Officer, Monica Sendor

 Thursday, 10 December 2020 from 6:30-8 p.m. (PST)

OVERVIEW:  Once again conflict has broken out in Nagorno-Karabakh. The disputed region of Nagorno-Karabakh, with its ethnic Armenian majority, is a de jure part of Azerbaijan, but is de facto held by the self-proclaimed Republic of Artsakh, which is supported by Armenia. Ethnic violence began in the late 1980s, and the region descended into a war following the dissolution of the USSR in 1991. The initial Nagorno-Karabakh War resulted in the displacement of 750,000 Azerbaijanis and 353,000 Armenians from both Azerbaijan and Armenia. The war ended with a ceasefire in 1994, with the Republic of Artsakh in control of most of the Nagorno-Karabakh region. For three decades, multiple violations of the ceasefire have occurred.  Long-standing international mediation attempts to create a peace process have been unsuccessful. Russia and Turkey are the current primary outside mediators. Is there now a sustainable brokered peace?

Ambassador (ret.) Reno L. Harnish III

Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State - Bureau of Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs

US Ambassador to Azerbaijan 2003-2006

Ambassador Harnish founded the Center for Environment and National Security at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography. Prior to this, he spent 33 years in the Foreign Service. He was heavily engaged in conflict resolution, democratization, and energy issues. He received the Presidential Meritorious Service Award twice and the Department of State Distinguished Service Award among other decorations.

Ambassador Reno Harnish took up his duties in the Bureau on April 25, 2006. He served as the General Chairman for the Washington International Renewable Energy Conference (WIREC) 2008 Interagency Leadership Group. Under his leadership, WIREC 2008, a ministerial-level meeting with representatives from over 113 countries, generated over 140 commitments for the adoption of renewable energy projects worldwide. From 2003-06 he served as Chief of Mission in Baku, Azerbaijan. In 2002-03 he served as designated Chief of Mission, U.S. Office Pristina, Kosovo. From 1999-02 he was Deputy Chief of Mission in Cairo, where he was responsible for the operations of a $2 billion plus, 2400 employee Mission. Before Egypt, Mr. Harnish served as the Deputy Chief of Mission at the U.S. Embassy in Stockholm. From 1992 - 1995 he led U.S. policy on scientific and environmental cooperation with the newly independent states of the former Soviet Union and political cooperation with the Central Asian countries in the Department of State.

Earlier, he served as Environment, Science and Technology Counselor, U.S. Embassy Rome; Economic and Commercial Counselor at the U.S. Embassy to the German Democratic Republic; in the Office of Developed Country Trade, Department of State; as an Economic Officer, U.S. Embassy, Vienna; a Political Officer, Status Liaison Office, Saipan and an Economic Commercial Officer, U.S. Embassy, Lagos, Nigeria. Mr. Harnish was honored for Presidential Meritorious Service, received Senior performance pay three times and has been awarded a Meritorious and two Superior Honor Awards.

Before entering the Foreign Service, Mr. Harnish worked as a research assistant at the American Enterprise Institute, an international economist at the U.S. Department of Treasury and as a clerk for Congressman Dave Martin of Nebraska. He received a Bachelor's in Political Science from San Diego State University, a Masters in International Studies and a second Masters in Economics from American University. In 1995/96 he attended Seminar XXI, Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Mr. Harnish speaks German, Italian, Swedish and some Azerbaijani. He published a book and articles on energy and the environment. Reno is a Knight in the Sovereign Military Order of Malta.

UCSD Professor, Jesse Driscoll

Associate Professor; Chair, Global Leadership Institute at the School of Global Policy & Strategy

Area specialist in Central Asia, the Caucasus, and the Russian-speaking world, with a main area of study in comparative state-building dynamics

Professor Driscoll’s first book, “Warlords and Coalition Politics in Post-Soviet States” (2015), was published in the Cambridge Studies on Comparative Politics series. The book maps the processes by which well-functioning domestic hierarchies emerged after relatively short periods of anarchic violence in Georgia and Tajikistan. Driscoll argues that when a state has failed, and promises by the nearby great power (in this case Russia) to provide security guarantees are not credible, policy-makers would do well to consider state-building as a complex coalition formation process by local violence entrepreneurs (warlords). His second book (forthcoming 2020) is a Practitioner's Guide to Fieldwork Methods for Academic Researchers. Education: Ph.D., Political Science, Stanford University, 2009; M.A., Security Studies, Georgetown University, 2001; B.S. Foreign Service, Georgetown University, 2001. Languages : Russian, Tajik, Arabic, Kyrkyz, Anatolian Turkish, Turkment, and Somali.

Department of State Foreign Service Officer, Monica Sendor 

Azerbaijan and Armenia Desk Officer

Office of Caucasus Affairs and Regional Conflicts (EUR/CARC) 

Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs | U.S. Department of State

2020-2022 Azerbaijan Desk Officer in Washington, DC

2018-2020 Economic Officer in Minsk, Belarus

2015-2017 Economic Officer, Staff Aide to the Ambassador in Kyiv, Ukraine

2012-2014 Consular Officer in Guangzhou, China

Intern, Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor

Intern, Regional Security Office, U.S. Embassy Sofia 2008

Intern, Executive Office, U.S. Embassy Moscow 2008

Education: M.A. The Johns Hopkins University - Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS): International Economics, International Relations, Conflict Management; B.S. University of Michigan: Russian and Eastern European Studies, Psychology; Certificate. Uniwersytet Jagielloński w Krakowie / Jagiellonian University: Polish Language and Culture: Certified in Polish as a Foreign Language at the B1 level by Polish Government


Mailing Address

San Diego World Affairs Council (SDWAC)

PO Box 34010

San Diego, CA 92163


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