Turkish Ambassador Hosts World Affairs Council DC
By C. Naseer Ahmad
Pictures by Gabby LaVerghetta
On the delightful evening of June 3rd, 3015, the Turkish Ambassador Serdar Kiliç hosted the World Affairs Council DC (WAC-DC) members and guests at his official residence. The beautiful diplomatic residence – once known as the “little White House” and the venue for Jazz music in years gone by – provided an opportunity for a rich cultural and educational experience.
While introducing Ambassador Kiliç to the audience, Mr Tony Culley-Foster, WAC-DC President talked about Turkey’s importance as a modern country with predominantly Muslim population that is bridge between the East and the West. He provided key statistical information about Turkey and the remarkable progress led by the country's export driven economy. Culley-Foster noted the support Turkey has provided to the refugees fleeing the civil war in neighboring Syria and the country’s role in NATO.
“Education has a role for a better tomorrow,” said Ambassador Kiliç and acknowledged the “Spotlight on Turkey” – an educational initiative of the World Affairs Councils of America and the Turkish Cultural Foundation. He presented a fresh view of current affairs from Turkey’s perspective and highlighted the burden his country has carried for the care of millions of Syrian refugees.
Hearing Ambassador Kiliç brought forward his vast experience as a seasoned diplomat representing Turkey in a world challenged by dangerous extremist groups such as “Da’ish” which is more commonly known as by the acronym ISIS. He preferred to call this group “Da’ish” because he said that it was neither Islamic nor a state. In a congenial manner, Ambassador Kiliç explained that different approaches from Turkish point of view for problem solving are natural due to the geographic location and the challenges faced by his country.
Ambassador Kiliç has been Turkey’s representative to the United States since April 2014. Prior to his appointment, he served as the Turkish Ambassador to Japan (2012-14) and Lebanon (2010-2012). Ambassador Kiliç also served as the Secretary General of Turkey’s National Security Council. He has also worked at senior level positions in NATO and Turkey’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
The World Affairs Council actively promotes global education and provides avenues “where learning happens.” So in addition to getting a better understanding about Turkey’s viewpoint from Ambassador Kiliç, the question-and-answer session was intellectually stimulating. Foremost in the questions was the concern for the plight of refugees and how much support Turkey was getting from the international community.
“Deal with the root causes,” was one of the answers from Ambassador Kiliç in response to questions about Da’ish.
WAC-DC attracts high caliber professionals with a keen interest in international affairs. This was evident from both the kind of questions as well as the people who put forward the questions. For instance, the question of supply of oil and gas from Russia has significant impact on the economies of European countries including Turkey.
Among the audience was former Congressman Jim Moran, a highly respected leader. Ms. Edie Fraser, Chair – WAC-DC and several Board members also participated in this event.
This eclectic gathering at the Turkish Ambassador’s residence is part of the WAC-DC’s Embassy Series, during which participating embassies invite WAC-DC members and its guests to the official residence of the ambassador. Thoughtful conversations provide an opportunity to develop long lasting friendships and the expansion of one’s professional network.
Such events also are excellent opportunities to taste the cuisine of different countries. As Turkish food is very popular in Washington, attendees were able to taste delicious food made available by the Turkish Ambassador and his staff. Many people traveled long distances to attend the event. Herman and Sandi Cole came all the way from Richmond to participate in this interesting event in which everyone enjoyed world famous Turkish hospitality and delightful insights.