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Hellenic, Jewish groups push for deeper US-Greek military ties; Iran opposition presses Biden for continued support; Canada’s Alberta ends $340,000 contract after Keystone defeat


Hellenic, Jewish groups push for deeper US-Greek military ties

The Hellenic American Leadership Council (HALC) and the American Jewish Committee (AJC) have thrown their weight behind a new bill to deepen military ties between the United States and Greece, declaring it a legislative priority for the two organizations.

The newly introduced U.S.-Greece Defense and Interparliamentary Partnership Act from Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Robert Mendendez (D-N.J.) and committee member Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) would authorize expedited delivery of F-35 fighter jets and delivery of excess defense articles to Greece. It would also authorize $1 million a year for military training and establish an interparliamentary group among Cyprus, Greece, Israel and the United States.

The bill builds on 2019 legislation from Menendez and Rubio that authorized new security assistance for Cyprus and Greece and lifted the US arms embargo on Cyprus.

“This new Act will result in a defense partnership between the U.S. and Greece — who have been on the same side of every major conflict in the last two centuries — that is able to safeguard stability and Western interests in the region,” HALC Executive Director Endy Zemenides said in a press statement. “That this is happening during Greece’s bicentennial makes it even more special.”

AJC CEO David Harris for his part called the Eastern Mediterranean a “strategically and economically vital region” for the United States and Israel.

“The trilateral relationship among Greece, Cyprus, and Israel,” he said, “has created a strong anchor to help stabilize an otherwise turbulent region.”

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New lobbying disclosures

Americas

Canada (Alberta): The province of Alberta didn’t extend its $340,000 contract with JDA Frontline past its May 31 expiration date, the firm tells Foreign Lobby Report. The Canadian province’s Ministry of Jobs, Economy and Innovation hired JDA last December for media and government relations strategy and support as Canadian interests ramped up their lobbying around the Keystone XL pipeline following President Joe Biden‘s election. The province has a $1.5 billion investment in the pipeline, whose developer TC Energy pulled the plug on Wednesday after Biden rescinded the US permit for the pipeline in one of his first acts as president.

JDA Frontline merged with Blue Engine Message & Media in 2018 to create Seven Letter but the firm still uses the JDA brand for its foreign sovereign work. Two other firms are still registered to lobby for Alberta: The province signed a one-year, $350,000 deal with Crossroads Strategies in November, with former Sens. Trent Lott (R-Miss.) and John Breaux (D-La.) leading that engagement. Meanwhile Canadian lobbying firm Crestview Strategy is signed on as a subcontractor to Crossroads.

Canada (Hydro-Quebec): Canadian public utility Hydro-Quebec has expanded its contract with Washington public affairs firm Forbes Tate Partners by another $290,000 as the company aims to convince Maine voters to support a $1 billion power line to New England in this November’s referendum. The contract extension covers two $40,000-per-month retainers and a $210,000 advertising budget. Deliverables include six static ads and two animated pieces “explaining the corridor and its benefits.” Hydro-Quebec recently extended its PR contract with the firm from April through August for a maximum amount of $758,500.

Hydro-Quebec also has a PR contract with Maine public relations firm Blaze Partners and recently brought on Capitol Counsel of Washington as its first lobbying firm amid staunch resistance from Maine environmentalists. Opponents of the project for their part have found an unexpected ally in Fox News host Tucker Carlson, who has attacked the proposal as a “corrupt green energy plot.”

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Asia

Azerbaijan: Armenia and Azerbaijan continue to trade barbs over the conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh, with Baku lobby shop BGR Government Affairs sharing a statement from the Committee to Protect Journalists urging Armenian authorities to share maps of landmines in the area following the death of two Azerbaijani reporters.

Kazakhstan: Greenberg Traurig has invited members and staffers of House and Senate leadership offices, foreign relations committees, armed services committees and Senate Finance Committee and House Ways & Means Committee as well as select Joe Biden administration officials to a June 23 reception for new Kazakh Ambassador Yerzhan Ashikbayev.

The firm has assisted Kazakhstan’s Ministry of Justice with foreign relations as well as business development since 2018 and recently registered former US ambassador to Portugal Robert Sherman (bio), a senior counsel at the firm and expert on Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) compliance, to the account. Greenberg’s most recent contract is for $850,000 a year.

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Marshall Islands: New York nonprofit advisory firm Independent Diplomat has registered consultant Michael Dobson as a foreign agent on its contract with the Republic of the Marshall Islands. An expert on international law around climate change, Dobson will provide “advice and support on international climate change diplomacy, including public relations.” Independent Diplomat has represented the Mission of the Republic of the Marshall Islands to the United Nations since 2011. The Pacific Island country is pressing the international community to follow through on its pledge to provide $100 billion a year to poorer countries threatened by rising sea levels and other climate change risks.

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Singapore: The Embassy of Singapore in Washington has extended its contract with the Fratelli Group for another two months through July at the previous rate of $18,000 per month. The embassy first hired the Washington communications firm in 2018 to monitor the media and position Singapore as a “longstanding and strategic partner” of the United States with Congress and the executive branch.

Middle East

Iran : A new lobbying filing reveals that the Iranian opposition is worried about being abandoned by the Joe Biden administration as it pursues nuclear diplomacy with Tehran. Rosemont Associates emailed Principal Deputy National Security Adviser Jonathan Finer on March 9 regarding “assurance of continued communication with the Ashraf refugees,” according to the filing. Rosemont represents the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), a pro-regime change group whose members were relocated from the Ashraf refugee camp in Iraq to new headquarters in Albania during the Barack Obama administration. Rosemont’s owner, former Sen. Robert Torricelli (D-N.J.), is the only registered agent on the account.

Torricelli also called Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs Matthew Palmer on March 18 about “reestablishing communication” with the opposition. And he emailed the deputy chief of mission to the US embassy in Albania, Leyla Moses-Ones, as well as the acting deputy chief of the US Mission to NATO, John Cockrelle, to discuss a Covid vaccine allocation for the refugees. Rosemont has lobbied for the NCRI since 2013 and is paid $15,000 per month.


Caught our eye

Armenia: The Armenian National Council of America (ANCA) is urging the Commerce Department not to block exports from Armenal, Armenia’s sole producer and exporter of aluminum foil, following a determination that the company was selling its products in the US at less than fair value. Instead ANCA is pressing for a less punitive suspension agreement, arguing that a ban would put 700 jobs at risk at a time when the tiny country is reeling from the coronavirus pandemic and last year’s conflict with Azerbaijan. ANCA spends $30,000 on lobbying per quarter.

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