Turkish official addresses business conference

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Las Vegas, Nevada (TCA) March 2011

Cemalettin Damlaci, the Turkish Deputy State Minister for Foreign Trade, spoke during March at the 25th Annual Reservation Economic Summit (RES), addressing an audience of Native American tribes and businesses on the burgeoning relationship between Turkey and Indian Country. RES is organized by the National Center for American Indian Enterprise Development (NCAIED).

During his speech on March 15, Damlaci proposed that Native American business leaders join him in Istanbul in November 2011 for a business forum on developing solid business-to-business networks.

"We respect the sovereignty of Native Americans and firmly support you in carrying out native trades and native ways,” said Damlaci. “And we even believe that now is the time for Native Americans to breach the [domestic] boundaries and go global. In this respect, it is now our mission to do some concrete studies on the possible cooperation areas between Turkey and Native Americans.”

Damlaci highlighted Turkey’s role as the 16th largest economy in the world, as well as its strategic location at the crossroads of Europe, Asia, the Middle East and North Africa.

“I am sure that cooperation between Turkey and Native Americans will not only increase the prosperity of both sides but will result in a solid long term relationship both in Turkey and the sovereign lands of Native Americans,” said Damlaci.

Damlaci was introduced by NCAIED chairwoman Margo Gray-Proctor, a member of the Osage Nation (Oklahoma), and spoke on behalf of Turkish Minister for Foreign Trade Zafer Caglayan.

On March 17 Damlaci joined a panel discussion on “Native American Trade Missions Overseas & Free Trade Zones at Home.” The panel also featured TCA President G. Lincoln McCurdy; John Berrey, Chairman of the Quapaw Tribe (Oklahoma); and Michael Finley, Chairman of the Confederated Tribes of Colville Reservation (Washington). During the panel, Damlaci reemphasized the Turkish government’s interest in hosting a follow-up conference in Turkey in November, while other panelists lauded Turkey as an ideal trading partner for Indian Country.

Damlaci and McCurdy also met with the mayor of Las Vegas, Oscar Goodman. Goodman expressed his excitement at Turkey being the first foreign government to attend the conference, and thanked TCA and the Turkish delegation for participating.

“We are very proud of the dialogue TCA has set in motion between Turkey and Indian Country,” said McCurdy. “We are honored to have Turkey be the first foreign nation officially represented at the RES and thank Deputy Minister Damlaci for leading the historic delegation. The RES has been a tremendous learning experience and we are grateful to the NCAIED leadership for allowing us to highlight Turkey as a potential economic partner for Native Americans.”

In addition to the government delegation led by Damlaci, the sizable Turkish contingent at the conference included Dr. Celal Secilmis, President of Turkish American Chambers of Commerce and Industry; STM, a technical consultancy firm, and Cem Kerem, a company that manufactures leather jackets decorated with Native American motifs. Secilmis addressed the  general session, and Cem Kerem donated leather jackets to the NCAIED raffle.