U.S. Turkish Lobby Going To Expand Its Political Influence


29.04.2008 13:11 GMT+04:00

/PanARMENIAN.Net/ Turkish-American groups are making a bid to expand
their political influence in the United States, expressly aiming to
counter the considerable sway of their Armenian American rivals on
Capitol Hill.

As reported by Eurasianet, the coordinated effort includes
strengthening Turkish-American grassroots organizations, improving
relations with elected officials and the media and legal defense of
those who advocate pro-Turkey positions. Representatives of several
Turkish groups described the long-term strategy at the American
Turkish Council’s Conference on U.S. Turkish Relations, at session
called "Empowering the Turkish-American Community."

The representatives repeatedly stressed their intention to put forth
a positive vision of Turkey, rather than in taking adversarial
positions. But the effort is geared toward advancing the Turkish
interpretation of the 1915 massacre of Armenians in the Ottoman Empire,
which Armenians and most historians call genocide but which Turks
call regrettable deaths in a messy war.

"Our cause is not anti-Armenian, or anti-Greek, anti-Bulgarian or
anti-Arab. It’s to try to create a balance on issues that impact
Turkey, Greece, Armenia and other countries in the Caucasus and
Middle East," said Lincoln McCurdy, president of the Turkish Coalition
of America.

The goal, said Nurten Ural, president of the Assembly of Turkish
American Organizations, is to strengthen the Turkish position ahead
of the 100th anniversary of the 1915 events.

The issue of the Armenian Genocide comes up every year before Congress,
as pro-Armenia members of Congress try to pass a resolution officially
recognizing the genocide. But while Armenians rely on their large and
well-organized diaspora in the United States to advance their agenda,
Turks have relied on high-priced lobbyists hired by Ankara, and on
the Pentagon, which maintains a longtime military alliance with Turkey.

The Assembly of Turkish American Associations is holding seminars
across the country for Turkish-Americans to learn about how to make
their case to politicians, the media and the public. So far, the
assembly has held 19 seminars and is planning 11 more.

The goal is to foster a "Turkish-American community who is confident in
themselves, assertive in public education and advocacy and comfortable
with confrontation," Nurten Ural said.

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