Ankara MP Reha Denemec, Antalya MP Mevlut Cavusoglu and Egemen Bagis were in the US between 11-18 June, paying an official visit as a Justice and Development Party (AK Party) delegation.
The delegation went to the US upon an invitation to a meeting organized by Brookings Institution under the leadership of Former US Ankara Ambassador Mark Parris. Former US Foreign Secretary Madeline Albright participated to the meeting as well. During the visit the delegation found the opportunity to come together with some other US officials, such as Republican Bobby Jindal, Thomas Tancredo, Elton Gallegly and Frank Wolf, as well as, Democrat Party members Brad Miller and Bill Pascrell. The delegation met with Former US Ankara Ambassador and the US Deputy Defense Secretary Eric Edelman and attended round table conferences with important think tanks like the Council of Foreign Relations (CFR), International Republican Institute (IRI), Center for Strategic and International Search (CSIS) and National Democratic Institute (NDI). The delegation also held meetings with some important political personalities and lobby groups and returned to Turkey on 18th of June.
The draft bill on the alleged Armenian genocide was the topic of priority in the negotiations. Although it was not on the agenda in April, officials expect that the issue would surprisingly be raised again.
In the press conference following the negotiations, Mr. Bagis answered questions and made statements, commenting on a variety of issues.
"AKP's secret agenda is a Turkey inclined in prosperity!"
Upon a question whether AKP has a secret agenda to bring Islamic law to Turkey Egemen Bagis said that AKP has only one secret agenda and it is to rise the average per capita income to 10000$, which would bring prosperity to the Turkish nation. Once it had been claimed that Turkey was under the threat of communism. However this couldn't have taken place in a NATO member country he added. Today the fear of fundamentalism is being injected to the people, yet neither communism nor Islamic fundamentalism may permeate into Turkey, he said.
"AKP is in the center of the political spectrum!"
Stating that AKP is not a right wing party, and has a great potential of supporters from the left wing as well, Egemen Bagis said "We are at the center of political spectrum."
"Army and Government is one front in Turkey!"Answering a question whether there are actually disputes among the institutions in Turkey, Bagis said such provocations would not result in anything. For their national interests the Turkish people would become one voice and dispute among the institutions is out of question in this sense.
"We would not ring bells and whistles to enter Northern Iraq!"
Bagis also answered questions about Northern Iraq, which is one of the hottest issues of agenda. He said "If we are convinced that such an operation is necessary and it would bring an end to terrorism in Turkey, we would launch the operation without asking anyone or ringing the bells."
"The Turkish nation is freer with AK Party!"
Upon questions about the concerns of the secular sections in Turkey and the recent Republican Demonstrations, Bagis stated that AKP government has never passed a bill in the Parliament that would harm the secular structure in Turkey and would never allow such a thing to happen
Pointing out that secularism is a common value for everyone in Turkey Bagis said: "AKP shows respect to the republican demonstrations. However I believe that people who participate in these demonstrations are motivated with wrong impressions." AKP has worked for 4.5 years to bring a greater freedom to people to organize such democratic activities and to increase democratic rights, he added.
Underlining that Turkey has become a more democratic and a freer country with AKP government Bagis said "Today Turkey is not a country where the books of Kafka and Dostoyevsky are confiscated or mayors are imprisoned for reading poetry."
Just like the people's reaction against abortion in the USA, there are sensitive issues in every country, which are brought up over and over again before every elections and the issue of turban is of this nature for Turkey, said Bagis. "I believe that women have a right to wear mini skirt as well as to wear turban" he added.
Egemen Bagis also pointed out that it is wrong to misrepresent this issue as if it was the only problem in Turkey. The most important agenda of AKP is the economic development of Turkey he added. According to a survey by TESEV in 1999, the ratio of women wearing turban was 75%, however this ratio decreased to 63% in 2006. This issue is considered less important day by day among public, he said.