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US lawmakers extend support as Turks hold largest business gathering in Washington

More than a dozen lawmakers from both sides of the aisle and both chambers of the United States Congress flooded a welcome reception at a US Senate building in Washington, D.C., on Tuesday as Turkish-Americans are preparing to hold their largest-ever business gathering.

The annual convention, organized by the Turkic American Alliance (TAA), the biggest umbrella organization of Turkish non-profit organizations in the US, will largely focus on boosting business transactions between the US and Turkic nations, particularly Turkey. As a prelude to the convention, which is composed of a number of meetings with US government officials as well as members of Congress, the TAA held a reception at the Russell Senate Office Building on Tuesday night.

At least 200 people showed up at the event, including lawmakers from Turkey, public figures and businesspeople. More than a dozen US lawmakers were present at the event, reiterating their support for boosting trade with Turkey while also voicing concerns over declining democracy in the country. Representatives of more than 15 countries also attended the event, which concluded with a landmark gala on Wednesday night. More than 50 US lawmakers went to previous conventions.

While Senator Roger Wicker urged Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan to “follow the rule of law,” Senator Martin Heinrich expressed concerns over press freedom violations in the country and urged the Turkish authorities to uphold free speech. Rep. Charlie Dent noted that he was aware of the concerns of many in the room regarding the recent crackdown on the freedom of press in Turkey, adding that he stands with those people and supports them in their efforts.

Major rights advocates have begun to increase their criticism of Turkey’s poor record on political rights, freedoms and civil liberties. Freedom House, a US-based non-governmental organization that conducts research and advocacy, kept Turkey in its “Partly Free” category, while the country’s press freedom was classified as “Not Free.”

 

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Original article was published by Today’s Zaman

TAA President Faruk Taban applauds as US Congresswoman Joyce Beatty addresses the Senate welcome reception. (Photo: Today’s Zaman)

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