By TurkofAmerica Staff - After having started his position as the President and CEO at the American Turkish Council (ATC) in February of 2015, Howard G. Beasey had faced his first serious test during the 35th annual conference held between the dates of October 31 and November 1 in 2016. In his closing remarks at the conference, Beasey had said: “We are going to hold a better conference on May 21-23 in 2017 and we hope to see you all there.” ATC’s relations with its partners in Turkey, DEİK and TAİK, had become tense after the Gezi Park protests of 2013 following a press release of the ATC on the Gezi Park. And, the issue that rose after this statement had caused the executive team of the Council to leave.
As a receipient of significant sponsorship of Turkey’s TAİK and DEİK, ATC passed its first test successfully. However, its 36th conference held between the dates of May 21 and 23 this year fell behind last year’s conference in terms of participation and content.
While it had previously hosted in its conferences high profile names such as the Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, Former Vice President Joe Biden, and Colin Powell, ATC had to be contended with participation of only GOP’s former member of Congress, Newt Gingrinch, who ran a campaign for presidential nomination in his party in 2011. At this year’s conference, the highest level of representation from America’s business world was head of US Chamber of Commerce, Thomas J. Donohue Sr. and CEO and chair of executive board of The Dow Chemical Company, Andrew N. Liveris. The Turkish side, which also used to send delegation consisting of ministers and deputy prime ministers, had undersecretaries as its high level officials joining the conference.
One of the main reasons of the participation level being lower than desired was due to the brawl that took place in front of the embassy building of Turkey in Washington, DC during visit of Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan to White house only a week before the ATC Conference.
At that time, the incident was widely given place in American media widely and leading names in the Congress delivered statements against Turkey. Moreover, having been carried out by it, Republican Senator John McCain had even argued that the ambassador of Turkey to the USA had to be deported. This was the first disappointment for Turkey that had rose its expectations from the USA, with regards to the issue of arming of Kurds in Syria and the extradition process for Fethullah Gülen Donald Trump won presidency, after Donald Trump won presidency.
Similar disappointments were faced also in the preparation phase of the ATC conference. Public figures who had previously expressed their plan to attend the conference cancelled their participation.
For the past two years, Beasey and his team have managed to take the ATC conferences to a point where it is not merely a meeting point for only Turkish and American firms from weaponry and defense sectors. The team has been successful in drawing representatives from various sectors ranging from cyber security to e-commerce and ship manufacturing. If this year’s conference had been held just a week earlier, we would have been writing something completely different.
Managing to have people from not only Washington, DC and the surrounding states but also from further states of the USA participate in the organization, ATC has also, in a way, created a platform for Turkish entrepreneurs who have been successful in the business world.
By giving awards to names praised by Turks living in the USA during its last two conferences, ATC has also set an example. The ‘Mustafa Koç Leadership and Cultural Award’, which was granted, for the first time, to the founder of Comodo, Melih Abdulhayaloğlu, was this year given to founder of Samumed firm Osman Kibar, who was also introduced at the cover of Forbes with the medicine he founded to treat aging and hair loss. Known for his works at Harvard University, Prof. Mehmet Toner was also selected as the recipient of a special award. Can Ulkay, producer of the movie Ayla that provides a different perspective on Turkey-Korea friendship, also received an award.
The participant of the ATC Conference that got the most attention by members of American media was without a doubt the head of TAİK, Ekim Alptekin. Instead of focusing on the topics covered by over 50 speakers, the journalists who came to the two days long conference rather wanted to hear a few statements from Alptekin against Flynn.
Among the high profile executives from Turkey who attended the conference were head of the executive board of Yıldırım Group, Yüksel Yıldırım; executive board chair of SBK Holding, Sezgin Baran Korkmaz; executive board chair of Limak Enerji, Batuhan Özdemir; CEO of Doğuş Construction, Burak Talu; CEO of Kibar Holding, Tamer Saka; president and CEO of GE Turkey, Canan Özsoy; top manager of TAI, Temel Kotil; and, the owner of Tabanlıoğlu architecture firm, Murat Tabanlıoğlu.
Howard G. Beasey, President & CEO, American-Turkish Council;
K. Ekim Alptekin, Chairman, Turkey-U.S. Business Council (TAİK);
General James L. Jones, USMC (Ret.) Chairman, American-Turkish Council;
Ömer Cihad Vardan, Chairman, Foreign Economic Relations Board (DEİK)
General William M. Fraser III, USAF (Ret.), Sierra Nevada Corporation
LTG. Yavuz Turkgenci, Director of Plans and Policy Directorate, Turkish General Staff; LtGen. Kenneth F. McKenzie, Director, J-5, Strategic Plans and Policy, Joint Chiefs of Staff;
General James L. Jones, USMC (Ret.), Chairman, American Turkish Council
LTG. Yavuz Turkgenci, Director of Plans and Policy Directorate, Turkish General Staff.;
Prof. Dr. Ismail Demir, Undersecretary, Ministry of Defense Undersecretariat of Defense Industries
Ambassador Thomas Shannon, Under Secretary of State, Political Affairs, U.S. Department of State
Mustafa Mente, Secretary General, DEIK;
Frank Schweitzer, Counsel, International Trade Group, White & Case LLP;
Dean Pinkert, Partner, Hughes Hubbard & Reed LLP;
Doreen Edelman, Co-Leader, Global Business Team, Baker Donelson
Temel Kotil,General Manager, TAI;