March 24, 2015, Tallahassee, FL – Florida Senate President Hon. Andy Gardiner welcomed Mr. Cemil Teber and Mr. Fatih Beyhan of Turkic American Federation of Southeast as the 3rd Annual Turkish American Day got underway at the Florida State Capitol. Sen. Rene Garcia, sponsored a resolution declaring the day Turkish-American Day. The Proclamation was read on the Senate Floor. The celebrations then moved to viewing deck on the 22nd floor of the Florida Capitol Building, the highest such vantage point in Tallahassee, Florida’s state capital. A large group of guests and state officials enjoyed delicious homemade delicacies cooked by Turkish volunteers of Istanbul Cultural Center.
The event was attended by 11 Senators and 25 Representatives. They listened to the President of Turkic American Federation of Southeast give a short history of the relationship between Turkey and the United States. He emphasized that despite some differences on foreign policy, it important for people of both countries to focus on growing profitable business relationships. Sen. Rene Garcia thanked TAFS for their role in developing positive and productive initiatives between Florida and Turkey. Senator Garcia spoke to all in attendance about the importance of freedom of speech and how much his colleagues and he are worried with the erosion of this freedom in Turkey during recent times. He drew similarity between Cuba and today’s Turkey regarding undue censorship on media. Many in the audience also expressed concerns about where Turkey is heading with recent undemocratic moves by the Erdogan government.
During the reception master calligrapher from Turkey showcased Turkey’s unique calligraphic art and as a demonstration in beautiful calligraphy penned the names of all guests who attended.