The Ministry of Foreign Affairs confirmed to Daily News Egypt that a “third party”, which wishes to remain anonymous, pays a $250,000 monthly fee to the Glover Park Group (GPG) for public relations and lobbying services with the US government in Washington.
The ministry confirmed the Egyptian government’s relationship with GPG in a statement published on Saturday evening, stressing that it is “customary among the nations of the world.” The statement also pointed out that many countries have contracts with such firms to lobby decision-makers in Washington because the US “is a large country with interests and connections in different parts of the world.”
The statement from the ministry asserted, “the Egyptian government determines the content of the message to be directed and targeted at either the US administration, congress, research centres or the media.” The messages conveyed by GPG are all “according to the Egyptian national interest,” said the statement, adding that GPG’s role in the process is to use its “contacts, expertise and influence in this field.”
“The government does not bear any financial burden” in relation to the contract. A report by Al Jazeera news agency earlier this week showed a contract between the Egyptian government and GPG, which included that a $250,000 fee to be paid monthly. Abdelatty reiterated that the government does not pay this fee, but rather a third party that wishes to remain anonymous.
The ministry stressed that the contract between the government of Egypt and GPG is not unusual, “since the signing of the aid program with the US, successive Egyptian governments have hired a single company or more operating in the fields of public relations, lobbying, or both.”
The statement from the ministry also pointed out that the now deposed regime of Mohamed Morsi did not sign agreements with lobby or public relations firms. The ministry highlighted that the Muslim Brotherhood had hired “similar US companies before and during the former president’s [term]” and that these contracts are not associated with the Egyptian government.
GPG, which is based in Washington DC, provides a range of media, advertising, public relations and lobby services. The ministry statement describes GPG as having “considerable reputation and influence with the decision-making centres in the US,” adding that it has a “proven track record with a number of countries around the world.”
In 2013 GPG’s total lobbying income amounted to $3,605,000, according to the Centre for Responsive Politics. The contract shown in Al Jazeera’s report showed that it had been received on 18 October 2013 by the US National Security Division under the Foreign Agents Registration Act of 1938. This came after the US administration decided to “recalibrate” its aid package to Egypt, which included temporarily halting the delivery of military equipment such as F-16 fighter jets, M1A1 tank kits, harpoon missiles and Apache helicopters.
Foreign Minister Nabil Fahmy acknowledged on 16 October that relations with Washington were in a “delicate” phase following the shift in US aid.
Abdelatty said that the role of GPG is to represent Egypt’s interests in the US, which includes “presenting the genuine image of Egypt.” He stressed that Egypt and the US “have good relations and will maintain them based on mutual respect.” He added that Egypt is neither moving away nor closer to the US, saying, “We like to diversify and widen options not to cut ties.”
GPG published a collection of four public-opinion polls on its website in July. The polls showed that 53% of the American public had an “unfavourable view” of Egypt and that there had been a decline in interest in news relating to Egypt. The polls also indicated that the US public saw that 83% of Americans thought that events in Egypt were critical to US interests and 71% believed the US “can have at least some influence” in Egypt, however 78% of people thought that the US “should mostly stay out of events in Egypt and allow the people there to resolve their differences.”