5th Annual Turkic American Convention, Washington, DC
March 17, 2015, Washington, D.C. – The official Welcome Reception of the 5th Annual Turkic American Alliance and Business Summit took place at the Russell Senate Office Building. Over 15 countries were represented at the event, which attracted members of the academia, various NGOs, businesspersons, elected officials and many other distinguished guests. Over 200 people attended the event in packed room.
Autria Godfrey of ABC7 News served as the Mistress of Ceremonies.
Senator Angus King (Maine) took the stage thank the Turkish guests for Turkey’s generous helping hand to Syrian Refugees which have desperately crossed borders to escape the civil war in their country. He also mentioned that he had been to Gaziantep in Turkey, and that he wanted to visit Istanbul in the future.
Senator Roger Wicker (Mississippi) thanked the organizers for their hospitality, urged Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to “follow the rule of law.” The Senator noted “this is not the last time that [he] will be with [TAA].”
Senator Martin Heinrich (New Mexico) after Senator Wicker, talked about press freedom in Turkey. He also noted that he was delighted to meet business leaders from around the world.
Member of the Grand National Assembly of Turkey, Aykan Erdemir (Republican People’s Party – CHP) underscored his commitment to democracy by noting that “economic prosperity comes with democracy”.
Senator Thom Tillis (North Carolina) mentioned that he had been to Turkey some time ago, when he visited Istanbul, Ankara and Izmir. He noted that he thought Turkey had great potential and thanked the audience and the organizers for “educating [them] more about Turkey.”
Congressman Pete Olson (Texas) remarked that he was very happy to be with everyone at the Welcome Reception, underscored the similarities between his home state, Texas, and some of the countries represented at the convention.
Senator Tim Kaine (Virginia) thanked the audience for their participation, noted that the U.S. has a strong relationship with Turkey. Senator Kaine also mentioned that he was aware of Turkish elected officials being present that evening, and welcomed them to the event.
Senator Bill Cassidy (Louisiana) took the stage to mention that he works a lot on issues regarding Turkey and surrounding countries in the region. He also thanked Turkic American Alliance, specifically for introducing Azerbaijani businesspersons to him.
Senator Bob Menendez (New Jersey) welcomed all the guests to the reception and express that he was proud of the vitality of the Turkish American community in his home state, New Jersey.
Senator John Boozman (Arkansas) welcomed the guests to the Russell Senate Office building, noted that he appreciated the hard work the organizers’ put into the convention and underscored that his door is wide open to anyone who wants to work with him.
On March 18 – 5th Annual Turkic American Convention and Business Summit Continued on Wednesday with a breakfast meeting at Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center. Business people from over 15 countries.
U.S. Representative Paul Tonko (New York – 20th) expressed his gratitude for being invited to the breakfast. The Congressman noted that he looked forward to strong partnerships that would be built as a result of the meeting. He also mentioned that he was delighted at how active the Turkish American community in his district was, specifically highlighting Embrace Relief, a relief organization based in Mr. Tonko’s district.
Ahmet Ciger, Vice President of TUSKON, noted that he had come to a realization that Turkish Americans’ presence was increasing at an exponential speed, noting that the trade volume between the U.S. and TUSKON member businesses had been increasing as well. He closed by noting that TUSKON’s aim was to continue contributing to that trade volume, but that ambition could only be possible to fulfill with democracy and free media.
Ambassador Vinai Thummalapally, Executive Director of SelectUSA, was the keynote speaker of the breakfast. Ambassador Thummalapally highlighted the bilateral business relations with not just Turkey, but with other countries in the region as well. After giving brief information about SelectUSA, he continued to note that consumer size is very important, and that 420 million consumers in Turkey and the surrounding region make it a very attractive location for business.
Throughout the convention, guests from around the world, accompanied by business leaders from the U.S. and TAA Member Federations and Councils, had meetings with U.S. Government officials and Members of the U.S. Congress. The convention culminated with the Gala Reception at the Willard InterContinental Hotel.
Principle Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Southern and Central Asian Affairs, Richard E. Hoagland was the keynote speaker at the Gala, while numerous other distinguished guests were given a chance to address the crowd that filled the Willard room within a few minutes of doors opening.
Overall, the 5th Annual Turkic American Convention & Business Summit hosted over 800 guests, from as many as 15 different countries and all corners of the United States. In total, more than 100 Members of the U.S. Congress participated in the meetings and other activities within the convention. TAA also had the pleasure of hosting numerous distinguished guests from abroad, including Former Georgian Deputy Prime Minister, Dr. Roman Gotsiridze, Vice Chairman of U.S. India Investors Forum, Munaj Gursahani, National Chairman of Kenya National Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Kiprono Kittony, Chairman of Jaiz Bank of Nigeria, Umaru Mutallab, Members of Parliament from Mongolia, Khurelbaatar Chimed and Sainkhuu Ganbaatar, Members of the Grand National Assembly, Ilhan Isbilen, Aykan Erdemir and Enver Erdem, as well as numerous ambassadors to the U.S. and many others.