Asia, Media wars, New in Lobbying, Regional conflicts

Armenia hires PR firm as conflict with Azerbaijan lingers

The Armenian government has hired a New York firm for a monthlong public relations blitz as its conflict with Azerbaijan lingers.

The Embassy of Armenia in Washington hired Copper Strategies on Oct. 30 for media outreach and social media engagement regarding the ongoing hostilities over the disputed enclave of Nagorno-Karabakh. The contract is for $20,000 and only lasts through the end of November but could be renewed if the fighting persists beyond then.

“Our services to the Embassy of Armenia will include media outreach, advisory on social media engagement, and communications counsel with regard to the ongoing conflict in Artsakh (Nagorno-Karabakh),” the contract states. “Our efforts will seek to advance the American understanding of the conflict, and support its peaceful resolution.”

The firm was founded by Philip Simon Walotsky Jr., a Democratic fundraiser and partner of the Truman National Security Project, a left-leaning foreign policy and leadership development organization in Washington. Walotsky signed the contract along with Ambassador Varuzhan Nersesyan and is the only registered foreign agent on the account.

The contract comes as both Armenia and Azerbaijan have been beefing up their outreach to US policymakers and the American public as each side blames the other for the flare-up.

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The Armenian embassy hired former Rep. Bob Dole (R-Kansas), now a special counsel with law firm Alston Bird, in September to help prepare for last month’s meeting between Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Armenian Foreign Minister Zohrab Mnatsakanyan in Washington. Pompeo also met with Azerbaijan’s Foreign Minister Jeyhun Bayramov at the time in a failed attempt to mediate an end to the fighting.

Meanwhile America’s powerful ethnic Armenian lobby has been working overtime to blunt the influence operations of Azerbaijan and its key ally Turkey. Armenian-American boycott calls have led to Mercury Public Affairs dropping the Embassy of Turkey as a client, while both the Livingston Group and DLA Piper have ended work for Azerbaijan in recent weeks.

Azerbaijan has responded with its own public relations surge. In recent weeks a Baku-based corporation has hired two PR firms, S-3 and Portland PR, for a total of $55,000 per month for ‚Äúcommunications services regarding foreign policy matters.” The Armenian diaspora accuses the company of being a front for the Azerbaijani government and is pressuring S-3 and Portland to drop it.