By Harut Sassounian,
Armenians firmly condemn and reject individuals with questionable motives who repeatedly write articles full of hatred and lies about Armenia in the international press. The hostile content of these articles leads one to believe that they are not honest expressions of opinion, but reflect the writers’ sinister aims. If you go on the armeniapedia.org website and look under “Armenian Hall of Shame,” you will find the names of a couple of hundred such anti-Armenian writers.
For example, James Wilson wrote an article last week titled “Why is France trying to play into Russia’s hands?” which was posted on the ‘EU Reporter’ website.
Wilson claimed that “France is starting to supply weapons to Armenia. Initially, it involves the delivery of 50 armored vehicles, but in the future, deliveries of French Mistral surface-to-air missile systems are also possible.” This is pure speculation. Wilson quoted an unknown Artsakh Armenian who reportedly spoke on Armenian TV about French weapons coming to Armenia.
Wilson revealed his real intent in writing this article by stating that Ukrainian and Moldovan media have reported: “Western military equipment supplied to Yerevan could be used by Russians to counter the Ukrainian Armed Forces’ counteroffensive.” This is utter nonsense. Wilson wrote that Armenia’s Defense Minister Suren Papikyan discussed French-Armenian military cooperation during his visit to Paris in September 2022. Even if this is true, nine months later, not a single French bullet has been sent to Armenia!
Wilson then accused Armenia of “serving as a trans-shipment hub for Iranian weapons sent to Moscow.” This is fake news. Moscow does not need to use Armenia for such trans-shipments. Wilson then falsely claimed that Armenia used Iranian drones during its clashes with Azerbaijan. Without providing a shred of evidence, he alleged that French weapons shipped to Armenia can be transferred to Iran. Incredibly, Wilson concluded that French weapons shipments to Armenia “put France on a collision course with Israel,” because of its military alliance with Azerbaijan.
Who is James Wilson and why is he writing such terrible things about Armenia? He is a Brussels-based British man who worked as a political consultant for mostly Eastern European clients, according to POLITICO. He spent almost two decades in the Hong Kong government. He founded MacMillan, a lobbying consultancy, first in Ukraine and then in Brussels, in mid-2000’s. He is the Publisher and Editor in Chief of EU Political Report in Brussels and co-founder of Brussels ThinkLab, a consultancy established in 2019.
Mark Scott wrote a lengthy three-part series of articles in POLITICO, revealing the inner workings of consultants in Brussels, under the title: “The web of connections behind Brussels lobbying: Despite a longstanding transparency push, large swathes of the bubble remain opaque.”
Here is how the EU Reporter’s publisher, Colin Stevens, presented his company on a YouTube video: “Our business model is to offer political parties, businesses, NGOs, industry associations, financial institutions and governments the opportunity to use EU Reporter to influence the European political decision-making process by sponsoring coverage and the placement of positive news stories and editorial comment related to them.”
POLITICO replied: “Welcome to the murky world of EU lobbying dressed up as journalism. Stevens doesn’t appear to have a particular agenda, or to work as a lobbyist. But his company has provided a number of companies and governments with a space to publish paid-for content as straight news articles without disclosing those connections.”
The EU Reporter’s website has posted dozens of anti-Armenia and pro-Azerbaijan articles. POLITICO disclosed that the EU Reporter published “a sponsored post by the Azerbaijani government…. Kazakhstan and Azerbaijan have both received extensive positive coverage on the site — raising questions about editorial standards and whether paid-for content is correctly labeled.”
Here is how the pro-Azeri propaganda works: Following the 2020 Artsakh War, “Baku’s representative to the United Nations sent a letter to the secretary-general alleging that Armenia had relied on terrorists and foreign fighters during the months-long war. Among the evidence he cited were articles published in EU Reporter. In one article, written while the conflict was ongoing, the site accused Armenia of transporting Turkish fighters from Syria to train the country’s militia. In another, it criticized Western media reports that accused Azerbaijan, not Armenia, of relying on foreign militants…. Three Azerbaijani experts told POLITICO that allegations of foreign fighters siding with Armenia during the conflict did not match the reality on the ground, and that EU Reporter’s coverage of the conflict skewed significantly toward Baku’s perspective…. POLITICO was not able to confirm whether Azerbaijan had paid for the favorable coverage in EU Reporter. Stevens said that his site retains full independence, that it had been even-handed in its treatment of Azerbaijan and that all articles were labeled with an author’s name…. Still, the outlet and Baku have ties that date back almost a decade,” POLITICO wrote.
The EU Reporter usually adds a sentence to its articles, stating: “EU Reporter publishes articles from a variety of outside sources which express a wide range of viewpoints. The positions taken in these articles are not necessarily those of EU Reporter.” This is nothing but a fig leaf to hide behind publishing articles of questionable origin.
I wrote to the Publisher of EU Reporter asking if he had paid James Wilson to write his ‘article.’ If yes, how much did he pay him? Not surprisingly, I did not receive an answer.