Downplaying paid lobbying efforts, Turkey planning to rally Turks living in America
Ankara is set to focus less on efforts by professional lobbyists while relying more on the US Turkish diaspora to be the face of Turkey before the US Congress, announced Turkish Ambassador to the US Namik Tan on Monday. Speaking to reporters in Washington, Tan said that under newly renegotiated contracts with two lobbying firms that represent it, Ankara will pay 20 percent less to the firms. Eager to forge closer contacts with the Obama administration, Ankara will adopt a new communications strategy on Capitol Hill which Ambassador Tan called "meeting with all circles." While admitting that the Obama administration has met resistance in persuading Congress to approve new weapons sales to Turkey, Tan called claims of a US arms embargo on Turkey "groundless." In addition to efforts to diversify channels of official communication with the US administration and to get the US-based Turkish diaspora involved in unofficial lobbying activities, Ankara is also trying to mend fences with the Israeli lobby, which is seen as the main reason for the recent problems in Congress. Towards that end, a Foreign Ministry delegation led by Undersecretary Feridun Sinirlioglu – which last week had talks with senior State, Defense and Commerce Department officials – also met with representatives of some Jewish groups in Washington.