March 19, 2015, Washington D.C. – Representatives of Ahiska Turks from all over the United States came to Washington, D.C. to participate at the 5th Annual Turkic American Convention & Business Summit between March 17 and March 19, 2015. More than 80 Ahiska Turks from Seattle (WA), Colorado, Springfield (IL), Louisville (KY), Houston (TX), Arizona, Dayton (OH), Wheaton (IL), Hagerstown (MD), Philadelphia (PA), Charlotte (NC) and Atlanta (GA) came to D.C. and took part in various activities throughout their stay in Washington D.C.
Turkic American Alliance greeted the Ahiska guests with a breakfast early at 8:00 AM ET on Tuesday, March 17. Following the breakfast, some of the guests were given a presentation on Washington D.C. and TAA’s activities in the capital of the United States. Later, the guests witnessed the grand opening of Samanyolu Broadcasting Group’s new Washington D.C. Broadcasting Studio, a ceremony which was being televised live to Turkey and other parts of the world. After the ceremony, the guests went to Capitol Hill to meet respective U.S. Representatives and Senators that represent them on the federal level. At 5:30 PM ET on Tuesday evening, they attended the Welcome Reception hosted by TAA at the Russell Senate Office Building.
Ahiska guests started the 2nd day of the convention with a breakfast at TAA’s headquarters on March 18, at 8:00 AM. After the breakfast, President of the Turkic American Alliance, Dr. Faruk Taban addressed the guests to thank them for coming from all parts of the country to add to the diversity at the convention, as well as giving them a preview of what they should expect to come later during the day. Later during the day our guests toured the U.S. Congress, the Library of Congress as well as other landmark destinations throughout the city and participated at the convention’s main event, the Gala Reception at the Willard InterContinental Hotel at 6:30 PM ET. Sarvar Tedorov, an Ahiska community leader took the podium during the gala to share his remarks with the rest of the participants. He thanked the organizers for putting together the event and extended his welcome to all the guests.
On Thursday, March 19, some of the guests that were in Washington D.C. for the 5th Annual Turkic American Convention had the opportunity to attend a briefing at the White House Conference Center, at which they were given information regarding new policy initiatives of the Obama administration, ranging from immigration to healthcare.
Ahiska Turks, also known as Meskhetian, or Meskheti Turks, who speak an Eastern Anatolian dialect of Turkish, are former inhabitants of the region known as Meskheti in Georgia. After enduring forced deportation and intimidation throughout the World War II and Soviet times, Ahiska Turks are now scattered around the globe, but remain primarily in post-Soviet countries. Academics estimate that there are approximately half a million Ahiska Turks in the world today, with almost 10,000 in the United States. The largest Ahiska community in the United States is presumed to be in Dayton, Ohio, where there are as many as 2,500 Ahiska Americans. Other cities with vibrant Ahiska communities are Phoenix, AZ, Salt Lake City, UT, Wheaton and Springfield, IL.