BY HARUT SASSOUNIAN
On January 15, 2020, the Turkish government renewed a major contract with the Washington, D.C.-based U.S. lobbying firm of Greenberg Traurig for a total fee of $1,538,000 for one year ending on December 31, 2020. Greenberg Traurig has been lobbying for the government of Turkey for several years. The agreement was signed by Serdar Kilic, Turkish Ambassador to the United States, and Robert Mangas on behalf of Greenberg Traurig. Violating the requirements of U.S. law, a copy of the agreement was not submitted to the Justice Department’s Foreign Agent Registration Act office until May 31, 2020, almost five months after its signing.
Greenberg Traurig will distribute during 2020 most of the Turkish payment to several subcontractors which will assist in the lobbying effort. They are:
- Capital Counsel LLC will be paid a fee of $432,000.
- LB International will be paid a fee of $270,000.
- Venable LLP will be paid a fee of $270,000.
That leaves a net amount of $566,000 for Greenberg Traurig. Several other U.S. lobbying firms have been hired by the Turkish government for a number of years.
The contract requires that Greenberg Traurig provide the following services to the Turkish government:
“Lobbying and government relations services to Turkey, which shall consist of those services ordinarily and customarily provided in representing a foreign sovereign before the United States Congress and Executive Branch.
These services shall include, but not be limited to:
(a) Proposing and pursuing passage of legislation and other U.S. government action that promotes Turkey’s interests and provides a positive image of Turks, Turkey, and the United States-Turkey relationship;
(b) Preserving and enlarging the Congressional Caucus on Turkey and Turkish Americans;
(c) Educating Members of Congress and the Administration on issues of importance to Turkey;
(d) Promptly notifying Turkey of any action in Congress or the Executive Branch on issues of importance to Turkey;
(e) Preparing brief analyses of developments in Congress and the Executive Branch on particular issues of concern to Turkey;
(f) Identifying official gatherings and social events to which Embassy personnel ought to attend, including to the extent possible, obtaining the necessary invitations;
(g) Identifying and/or arranging speaking engagements locally and nationally for Embassy personnel or their appointed or suggested proxies in settings that will improve Turkey’s image and advance its causes on Capitol Hill. Such would be, if so directed by Turkey, coordinated with Turkey’s existing public relations service providers; and
(h) Maintaining and forging alliances with other interest groups whose goals are similar to or shared by Turkey.”
The contract further requires that Greenberg Traurig comply with the following requirements:
“1. Personnel and Other Service Providers: Except as noted below, Greenberg shall compose its own team to achieve the best possible results in providing the services described above. It will provide Turkey at the earliest possible date a list of personnel, including an indication of their areas of expertise and/or how they will be utilized. This list will be updated from time to time as required.
2. Additional Costs and Expenses: Should Greenberg incur extraordinary costs and expenses on Turkey’s behalf that are not otherwise contemplated in the fees described above, Turkey shall reimburse these costs provided that Turkey gives explicit advance approval.
3. Monthly Reporting and Quarterly Performance Assessment: Greenberg shall provide monthly a written report to Turkey succinctly describing its work on Turkey’s behalf. Such reports need not include calculations of the time spent by the individual members of the Greenberg team.
Further, every three months, or as often as Turkey may desire, Greenberg shall present to Turkey a written assessment of its performance during the preceding period. If, upon reviewing the assessment, Turkey is not satisfied with Greenberg’s performance, Turkey may, at its sole discretion, terminate this Agreement according to the terms stated herein.”
The Turkish public and opposition parties should be aware that their government has wasted hundreds of millions of dollars of their taxes over the last few decades to pay American lobbying firms. Most of this money has been spent with no benefit to Turkish citizens at a time when the country’s economy is in shambles, the Turkish Lira has dropped in value precipitously and Turkey owes hundreds of billions of dollars to foreign banks.
Despite the gargantuan amounts of money spent on lobbying in the United States, last fall the House of Representatives (overwhelmingly) and the Senate (unanimously) adopted resolutions recognizing the Armenian Genocide. The U.S. lobbying firms are experts in siphoning money from their foreign clients. They talk a good game, present rosy reports, but at the end of the day, they accomplish very little!
Neither the Armenian government nor Armenian-American organizations in Washington, D.C. have hired lobbying firms thus saving their funds for more productive work. Armenians do not need lobbyists to convince the U.S. government that their cause is just. No matter how much money the Turkish government spends, it will never be able to whitewash its dirty laundry of past and present-day crimes!