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. She opened by thanking the sponsors of the convention for helping make the event a reality. Then, she proceeded to call distinguished guests to the stage to share their remarks with everyone.
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.
U.S. Representative Robb Wittman (Virginia – 1st) stated that he had a great relationship with the Turkish American community. He thanked Turkic American Alliance for being a bridge between the community members and himself.
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 – 22nd) 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 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 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. He also noted that he deeply appreciated the stance that many in the room that evening had taken for freedoms of speech and press.
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.
Representative Jim Himes (Connecticut – 4th) said that he works closely with Turkey due to his assignment on the House Intelligence Committee, welcomed the guests to the convention and thanked for the organizers for their hard work.
U.S. Representative Joyce Beatty (Ohio – 3rd) expressed that she was proud to be a part of the event and said “[they] loved to work with Turkish businessmen.”
U.S. Representative Charlie Dent (Pennsylvania -15th), after welcoming everybody, mentioned that he was aware of the concerns of many in the room regarding the recent crackdown on freedom of press in Turkey. He stated that he stands with those people and supports them in their efforts.
Representative Mike Honda (California – 17th) expressed that he hopes the relationship between Turkey and the U.S. lasts long. He also mentioned that he was a strong supporter of freedom of speech and that this freedom ought to be protected.
Congresswoman Brenda Lawrence (Michigan – 14th) mentioned that she had been to Turkey some years ago, in a trip organized by Turkic American Alliance. She noted that this trip had shaped her view of Turkey and that she understood how valuable it was.
Former Deputy Prime Minister of Georgia, Dr. Roman Gotsiridze highlighted that Turkey was Georgia’s most important economic partner and that he was delighted to participate at the convention. Manoj Gursahani, Vice Chairman of U.S. India Investment Forum and Kiprono Kittony, National Chairman of Kenya National Chamber of Commerce and Industry also gave brief remarks and express gratitude for being hosted at the reception.
After the remarks by distinguished guests, the Mistress of Ceremonies invited everyone to join her in taking a group photo, thanked the participants for being there and everyone who got on the stage for their inspirational remarks.