More adventures in business contracts PDF Print E-mail

Having been a business lawyer for over 25 years, I never cease to marvel at the complexity of contracts, and also at many interesting cases that provide support to the adage that “truth is stranger than fiction." (I also want to mention that nothing in this article should be construed as legal advice.)

Adventures in business contracts: Tips and pitfalls PDF Print E-mail

Having been a business lawyer for over 25 years, I never cease to marvel at the complexity of business contracts. Here are some comments and tips concerning contracts. (I also wanted to mention that nothing in this article should be construed as legal advice.)
Some practical tips:

Quoted by Azeri Press Agency PDF Print E-mail
American analyst: The real obstacle to ratification of the protocols by the Turkish parliament is the lack of progress on settling the Nagorno-Karabakh issue

Washington. Isabel Levine – APA. “The decision of the Committee on Foreign Affairs of the House of Representatives on “Armenian genocide” doesn’t mean the end of ratification of the Turkish-Armenian protocols and the normalization of Turkish-Armenian relations, Stephen Larrabee, senior analyst and Distinguished Chair in European Security at the Washington DC based think tank RAND Organization told APA’s Washington correspondent.

“The real obstacle to ratification of the protocols by the Turkish parliament is the lack of progress on settling the Nagorno-Karabakh issue. Without some visible progress toward resolving the Nagorno-Karabakh issue, the Turkish parliament is unlikely to ratify the protocols” – Mr. Larrabee said.

According to the analyst, Congress’s Committee vote will annoy many Turks but will not seriously harm US-Turkish relations as long as the resolution is not put to a vote before the full House of Representatives.

“It is the vote before the full House that is most important not the committee vote. As noted above, the administration now seems to have an agreement that the resolution will not be put to a floor vote in the House. According to news reports, the Obama administration has achieved an agreement with the House leadership that the resolution will not be put to a floor vote. If the reports are true, this should defuse the potential crisis” – he added.

Another analyst, Mark Meirowitz, who holds a doctorate in Politics and teaches undergraduate courses in Politics, History and Law at various colleges in New York, believes that, the US House Committee resolution was "unnecessary".

“I do not believe that it is the appropriate function of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs to become the tribunal or platform to evaluate historical events. In my opinion, the Armenian Genocide Resolution will harm US-Turkish relations, serves no useful purpose and should not be approved” – analyst told APA’s Washington correspondent.

According to him, the impact of the passage of the House Committee resolution is harmful mostly in a symbolic way.

“The Turkish government needs to remain calm about this, and devote its energies to working out a rapprochement with Armenia; including getting the scholars commission established to study the events in Armenia. So long as the full House does not take up the resolution, the damage will be limited. I do note that even if the House passed it, which would be a terrible development, such a resolution would not be binding”, - said Mr. Meirowitz, who is also a business lawyer in New York.

Originally appeared on Azeri Press Agency ( on March 9th 2009
Foreign policy implications loom in genocide resolution PDF Print E-mail

On March 4, the House Committee on Foreign Affairs made a major misstep by approving, by a razor-thin margin of 23-22, a historically erroneous and politically injudicious "Armenian Genocide" resolution which, among other things, calls upon the president to "accurately characterize" the historical events concerning the Ottoman Empire's actions in Armenia as "genocide." U.S. Rep. Eliot Engel, D-Bronx, voted for the resolution.

It is no coincidence that the resolution, House Resolution 252, was referred to the House Foreign Affairs Committee. The jurisdiction of the committee includes oversight and legislation relating to national security developments affecting foreign policy, strategic planning and agreements and public diplomacy. Members of this committee have included future presidents John Quincy Adams and James Polk, as well as Benjamin Franklin and John Jay. Throughout American history, the committee has been involved in many major foreign policy issues.

The committee was mandated to consider the foreign policy implications of this resolution. Instead, it overlooked its responsibilities, and passed the resolution. On this issue, the committee ignored what is best for the U.S., and decided to become the arbiter and judge of historical events.

The resolution is now on its way to the House floor, where it faces an uncertain future. But since this resolution, despite numerous defeats over the years, always returns from the dead, it is helpful to set forth some of the very significant foreign policy reasons that the House should not approve the proposed Armenian Genocide resolution now or ever:

1. The Turkey-Armenia Protocols have been signed and contemplate a historical commission to sort out the issue of the events which occurred in Armenia in 1915. These protocols are, to put it mildly, in a precarious state, and this resolution could completely disrupt any progress on the protocols.

2. Turkey is a staunch ally of the United States and U.S. strategic interests could be severely disrupted by the passage of this resolution.

3. Congress should not be making foreign policy decisions which could disrupt bilateral relations with a major ally. The passage of the resolution would interfere significantly with the efforts of President Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to make foreign policy, and would severely, perhaps irreparably, damage U.S.-Turkish relations.

4. The passage of this resolution could drive Turkey further from the Western orbit.

5. The U.S. has a major military base at Incirlik, with profound strategic importance to the United States.

The fact is that the Turkish government sees this legislation as a litmus test of American support for Turkish interests (and it would behoove the supporters of the legislation to fully appreciate this). Already, as a result of the committee vote, Turkey has recalled its ambassador, and Turkish-U.S. relations are in turmoil.

Engel, who supported the legislation, should be aware that while he might believe that he is endorsing a particular approach on historical events, he is, in effect, by passing the resolution, painting Turkey, a major ally and friend of the U.S., in a very unfavorable light and stigmatizing all Turks, including Turkish-Americans, for events which occurred almost 100 years ago during a time of unrest and war that preceded the founding of the modern Turkish republic.

Hopefully, this resolution will be put aside permanently. No good can come from this resolution, only an unnecessary crisis with Turkey. It is plainly in the strategic interests of the U.S. not to disrupt the very positive developments in U.S.-Turkish and Turkish-Armenian relations. Engel should recognize this, and act accordingly.

I am very hopeful that Engel will have an epiphany and change his thinking on this resolution. This would best for New York and the United States. The resolution's passage by the full House would be nothing short of a disaster for U.S. foreign policy.


Originally apperared on on March 10. 2010

Türkiye Ne Yapmalı? What Should Turkey Do? PDF Print E-mail

The current situation is very confusing. Turkey is facing a virtual onslaught throughout the world, and is being unfairly singled out for vilification and stigmatization.

The House Committee on Foreign Affairs, using parliamentary devices (keeping the balloting open until the resolution was passed), approved a non-binding resolution calling on the President to characterize the events in Armenia as genocide. Turkey withdrew its ambassador to the United States, the newly appointed Namik Tan. Further, the American Turkish Council has just cancelled its annual conference because of the non-participation of Turkish officials who have, according to the ATC statement “curtailed official visits to countries that have accepted claims of genocide, including the United States”.

The Swedish Parliament recently voted to recognize the events in Armenia as genocide and Turkey withdrew its ambassador.

In Switzerland, Zurich’s Court of Appeals also recently confirmed the initial verdict of a Swiss district court that ruled that three Swiss citizens of Turkish descent were guilty of denying the Armenian Genocide. The defendants had apparently called the Armenian Genocide a lie at a meeting in Switzerland in 2007.

These are truly disturbing developments and understandably the Turkish government and Turks throughout the world (and friends of Turkey and the Turkish people) find these actions to be unfair and very problematic. Most importantly, these events interfere with the vitally important Turkey-Armenia protocols. It is imperative that these protocols advance, including the establishment of the historical commission to look into the events in 1915 – which is the proper repository for these matters, not parliaments or legislatures (or committees) of other countries second-guessing historical events.

In addition, free speech should always reign and be supreme (that is a fundamental principle of American democracy) – on what possible basis in justice and propriety do the Swiss go ahead and convict someone for making a statement about a historical event? Can you imagine if someone tried to pass such a law in the USA – there would be a huge outcry against such an infringement of freedom of speech.

I would also point out that the Swiss should take a good look into the mirror with respect to their own actions during the Holocaust (I recommend the PBS Frontline documentary called “Nazi Gold” which investigates Switzerland’s acting as banker and financial broker for Nazi Germany, and the allegation that Switzerland allowed German train cars full of Jews bound for death camps to travel through Switzerland). For the Swiss in this situation, the adage is particularly appropriate: “People Who Live in Glass Houses Should Not Throw Stones”.

The question is: given this situation, What Should Turkey do? Turkey has apparently threatened 'serious consequences' after the US vote on Armenian genocide and is apparently not planning to return its Ambassador to the US until it receives assurances that the House resolution is dead.

I would urge calm on the part of Turkey and its people. I believe that Turkey should return its ambassadors to the US and Sweden. Ambassador Tan, for example, is a very experienced diplomat, and he needs to be in the US to work with US officials and others to stabilize the situation caused by the House Foreign Affairs Committee’s inappropriate action.

President Obama needs to weigh in and do his utmost to stabilize this situation, so that the Turkey-Armenia protocols can be salvaged (these Protocols are in a very precarious state in light of the House committee resolution and the complicating factor of Nagorno-Karabakh).

Frankly, the Turkish leadership needs to understand that in the American system, Congressmen vote their constituent interest and that can often conflict with national interest and policy. The President and Secretary of State need to act, and put pressure on the Speaker of the House to put the Resolution aside permanently. Right now, the President and the Congress are pre-occupied with health care, but the Armenian resolution may still rear its ugly head again especially as we get closer to April 24th (and the Presidential statement on the events in Armenia).

In the meantime, Turkey should not take any further hasty actions in respect of its relations with the US. The US-Turkish alliance is so significant that it should not be held hostage to this issue of the Armenian events, as emotionally impactful as this issue is on the Turkish leadership and every Turk throughout the world.

Turks and the Turkish leadership should know that they have loyal and devoted friends throughout the world who are outraged at these events. This too shall pass. Turkey should hold fast to the propriety of its cause, but should send its ambassadors back to the US and Sweden, and have its officials fully engaged again in active diplomacy, so that Turkey will not be isolated but will actively be “in the game” to fight, along with Turkey’s friends, for justice for Turkey, its reputation and its image in the world.

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