US lobbyists work for both sides

BELGRADE, WASHINGTON -- The American lobbying company called on to help Boris Tadić last year, is now working for the Albanian side.

The American-Albanian Civil League, headed by former congressman and leader of the Kosovo independence lobby in the US, Joseph DioGuardi, has hired the New York-based 5W Public Relations firm to protect the interests “of all Albanians, no matter where they live,” according to daily Blic.

Blic goes on to expain that days after the signing of the agreement, the 5W PR agency had flooded the media with statements on topics ranging from the "freeing of Albanian terrorists arrested in Montenegro, to Kosovo independence propaganda and criticism of the Serbian constitutions which throws Serbia into even greater isolation and poverty.”

A year ago, according to the daily, the same agency announced before a visit to Washington, that Serbian President Boris Tadić is “a caring problem-solver who stays cool even under pressure, is especially popular among young people and experts, and a man who advised Serbia to forget its nationalistic politics,” and described Serbia as a democratic and pro-European country.

At that time, Tadić appear in all of the leading American media programs and 5W PR experts stated that its campaign was very successful, except for the fact that it presented Tadić as “the bringer of pro-Western reforms,” adding that they managed to make sure that Serbia’s stance regarding Kosovo was heard in Washington.

5W PR President and CEO Ronn Torossian, who was personally responsible for Tadić’s campaign, said that there are no ethical dilemmas.

“I am not a diplomat or ambassador, I work for those who pay us. There are no emotions in this line of work. This is like working one year for Coca-Cola and then working for Pepsi. We started working for the Albanian side after our previous contract ran out.” Torossian said.

Editor-in-Chief of the expert publication O'Dwyer's Washington Report, Kevin McCauley, who follows the lobby scene in America, told Blic that legally speaking, there are no conflicts of interest here, because the contract with Serbia expired a year ago.

“It would be problematic for the 5W PR agency to work for the two opposing sides at the same time.”

He said that the crisis in the Balkans introduced new moments in the world of lobbying.

During the 1990s, the Rudder and Fin agency worked at the same time for Bosnia, Croatia and Kosovo, but the difference was that all three campaigns were geared in the same direction, against Serbia.

“The 5W PR agency is excellent, they have fantastic contacts, especially in the Jewish community. One good thing for Serbia is that it recently signed an agreement with an even better agency, Barbour Griffith & Rogers. This is a good investment, because if anyone can help Serbia, it’s Barbour Griffith & Rogers.” McCauley said.