Date: February 26, 2016
Name: Taniel Koushakjian
Telephone: (202) 393-3434
From Peace to Hit-Piece: Turkey's New Lobbying Strategy Against
By Taniel Koushakjian
Armenian Agenda Editor
On February 22, the Turkish Institute of Progress retained Mercury Public
Affairs, LLC to lobby on its behalf in Washington, D.C. According to the
filing, Mercury will lobby specifically on `Turkish-US relations.' Two days
later, Mercury's Vice Chairman, Adam Ereli, a former U.S. Ambassador and
Deputy Spokesperson at the State Department, penned a hit-piece on Armenia
entitled `Putin's Newest Satellite State,' on Forbes' opinion page.
However, Forbes neglects to mention the fact that Ereli's firm is under
contract with the anti-Armenian lobby group. It is not yet clear whether or
not Ereli disclosed to Forbes his business relationship behind the story.
It appears that either the Turkish lobby planted this story with the full
knowledge and support of Forbes, or that Mercury's connection with Forbes
was used as a pawn in the Turkish lobby's anti-Armenian campaign.
This is not the first time a high-priced Washington lobbyist has used the
stroke of the pen to attack Armenian Americans. In 2014, Brenda Shaffer
wrote a piece in the New York Times opinion page entitled `Russia's next
land grab.' The title sounds familiar. The story's byline for Shaffer
states that she `is a professor of political science at the University of
Haifa and a visiting researcher at Georgetown.' However, Shaffer did not
disclose her role as a paid consultant to Azerbaijan's state-run oil
company SOCAR. After the Times realized they had been duped, the editor's
rightly appended the story with the following statement: `This Op-Ed, about
tensions between Armenia and Azerbaijan, did not disclose that the writer
has been an adviser to Azerbaijan's state-run oil company. Like other Op-Ed
contributors, the writer, Brenda Shaffer, signed a contract obliging her to
disclose conflicts of interest, actual or potential. Had editors been aware
of her ties to the company, they would have insisted on disclosure.'
The Turkish Institute of Progress (TIP), a New York based Turkish lobby
group is the latest player trying to prop up Turkey by putting down
Armenian Americans. The group was established months prior the centennial
anniversary of the Armenian Genocide to `provide a forum for dialogue in
pursuit of peace and cooperation between Turkey and the international
community,' according to its website.
Instead of outright opposing Armenian Genocide recognition efforts by
American human rights activists, the Turkish lobby's genocide denial
strategy shifted its approach to the issue on the centennial anniversary.
TIP's other hired public relations firm, Levick, tried to get a counter
genocide resolution introduced that `focused on the next 100 years' by Rep.
Curt Clawson (R-FL) who had been recruited to introduce the bill by
Clawson's predecessor, Congressman Connie Mack (R-FL), now a lobbyist for
A pushback from Clawson's own constituency thwarted the TIP's efforts, and
the resolution, H. Res. 226, was instead introduced by Rep. Jeff Sessions
(R-TX). The bill currently has two cosponsors.
I am personally aware of the Turkish government's coordinated anti-Armenian
effort with TIP, Levick, and now Mercury, as I was in Clawson's district on
April 12, 2015. I was invited to give a presentation on the Armenian
Genocide at the Holocaust Museum and Education Center of Southwest Florida
in Naples. Upon my arrival to the Holocaust Museum, I was shown an
intimidating letter by Ozgur Kivanc Altan, Consul General of the Republic
of Turkey in Miami addressed to the Holocaust Museum demanding that they
cancel my presentation.
>From Peace to Hit-Piece
The Turkish lobby's strategy of genocide denial cloaked as peace has now
turned to attacking the Republic of Armenia itself in order to mask
Azerbaijan's $4 billion dollar arms purchase from Russia, not to mention
Azerbaijan's gross abuse of human rights, corruption scandals, jailing of
journalists, and drift away from democracy and towards authoritarian rule.
Mr. Ereli's anti-Armenian hit-piece in Forbes should be appended, as the New
York Times did, so that its readership is fully aware of his firm's
financial benefit from the published story. Their readers deserve no less.
From Peace to Hit-Piece: Turkey's New Lobbying Strategy Against Ar
Posted 27 February 2016 - 12:20 PM
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