WASHINGTON DC TRIP OF THE US FRIENDSHIP CAUCUS
The Turkey Study Group, established by a joint decree of the Turkish-American Interparliamentary Friendship Caucus of the Turkish Grand National Assembly and the Turkey Friendship Caucus of the United States House of Representatives and supported by the United States Association of Former Members of Congress, organized its second annual USA-Turkey Workshop between 16-22 November 2006.
Hon. Egemen Bagis, AK Party Istanbul Deputy and Joint Chairman of the Caucus; Hon. Reha Denemec, Deputy Party Chairman and Ankara Deputy of AK Party; Hon. Mevlüt Çavusoglu, Antalya Deputy of AK Party; Hon. Zeynep Damla Gurel CHP Istanbul Deputy; Edward Whitfield former Congressman (KY-R), Congresswoman Hon. Virginia Foxx (NC-R), Congressman Hon. Nick Rahall (WV-D), former Congressman Jim Slattery (D), and former Congressman John J. Rhodes (R) participated in the meeting held in West Virginia.
At the roundtable discussions participants discussed, and openly expressed their opinions on issues such as the future of Middle East, combating terrorism, the process of Turkey's membership to the Image of the United States in Turkey.
During this visit the Turkish delegation also attended several meetings and luncheons hosted by the CSIS (Center for Strategic and International Studies), ATC (American Turkish Council), NDI (National Democratic Institute), and GMF (German Marshall Fund of United States).
At a press conference held in Washington, DC before the departure of the delegation, Hon. Egemen Bagis said: "In all the meetings we discussed the relations with Turkey and the draft bill regarding the Armenian issue expected to be submitted to the Congress after the Democrats won the majority in the US Congress and the US senate. As you know, since years the Armenian lobby is driving a heavy campaign in the US Congress and the US senate. The Democratic win of the majority in spite of Mr. Bush and the appointment of Hon. Nancy Pelosi as the Speaker of the House will have various consequences. Mrs. Pelosi is representing the State of California, in which Armenians have a major vote potential, and she promised her Armenian voters that she would finalize this matter. There is a high probability of this draft to become legislation even with Mr. Bush and our strong friends in the US Congress and US Senate. Turkey and the Turkish lobby should immediately and intensively start working on this issue. Our government will put pressure on Mrs. Pelosi. It will demonstrate the heavy blow such legislation would bring to the US-Turkish relations and convey her the grave consequences. But the Turkish lobby should increase the pressure on the Democrats. This year, every citizen should send three letters to the member of Congress representing his/her district. The first letter should discuss our sensitivity regarding the unity of Iraq, whilst the second addressing the unfairness and unjust treatment, and the third should present our strong reaction to the possible draft of the bill expected to be submitted to the Congress. Only united can we prevent a grave consequence to happen."