Top Turkish Business Association to Lobby Against Genocide Bill

After originally choosing to postpone a trip to the US, TUSIAD head Umit Boyner has now indicated the association will hold its meetings as scheduled in order to fight against the Armenian Genocide Resolution pending a vote in Congress.

ANKARA (Hurriyet)–The Turkish Industrialists’ and Businessmen’s Association (TUSIAD) will not postpone its meeting in the United States scheduled for April 19-20 and will instead use the opportunity of its visit to the US to lobby against congressional recognition of the Armenian Genocide.

TUSIAD announced earlier this month that it was considering postponing the meeting to a later date due to a decision by the U.S. House Committee on Foreign Affairs to approve on March 4 a resolution recognizing the Armenian Genocide.

Relations between Turkey and the U.S. have been tense ever since the committee approved the draft law, said Jale Ozgenturk, a columnist and news coordinator for business daily Referans.

Now, with only one month remaining until April 24–the international day of commemoration for the Genocide–anticipation is growing as to how the U.S. president will term the events during his annual statement.

In response to the March 4 resolution, Turkey recalled its ambassador in Washington, Namık Tan, while the Foreign Ministry said the government’s official line favored not holding high-level visits at the time, indicating that Industry Minister Zafer Caglayan’s visit scheduled for March 19 had been delayed.

The ministry also advised the Turkish Union of Chambers and Commodities Exchanges (TOBB,) the Foreign Economic Relations Council (DEIK) and TUSIAD to refrain from attending meetings in the country.

TUSIAD, for its part, had asked the opinion of the Foreign Ministry before the scheduled visit, a ministry official said on condition of anonymity. “But we told them the last decision rests with them. We cannot say anything to independent organizations that can be interpreted as an instruction. For example, Guler Sabancı was also going to travel to the U.S., but we learned she canceled the trip based on her personal decision.”

TUSIAD at first decided to postpone its meetings scheduled for Apr. 19-20 but then changed its mind. The association said such a postponement could be harmful for Turkey.

The association said that continuing its present line until April 24 may ultimately weaken Turkey’s interests, adding that, as a result, it is preparing to conduct its visits to the U.S. as they were planned earlier.

During its visit the association hopes to meet with U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton although TUSIAD is still waiting to hear a response for its request to meet the official.

In addition to TUSIAD Chairwoman Umit Boyner, some board members, such as Haluk Dincer, who is also chairman of the Turkish American Business Council, or TAIK, and Cem Duna are also expected to attend the meetings.

A member from the TUSIAD board said the Turkish government’s “sulking” policy would bring no benefit to the country.

“This is not a sustainable attitude,” the member said. Noting that nongovernmental organizations also have a mission within the international relations, the TUSIAD member said the visit would proceed for this reason.

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