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The Fifth International GR Forum

Economy, Industry News, People

The Fifth International GR Forum

May 26

Istanbul, Turkey

The Fifth International Open GR-Forum annually brings together the best specialists in Government Relations, Government Affairs, lobbying and advocacy from all over the world. 

It should be admitted that the Third International GR Forum was held in Kyiv, Ukraine in 2017. The Fourth International GR Forum was held in Brussels, Belgium in 2018. It confirms the global character of the annual Forum and strong international position of the main organizer of the Forum – the International Government Affairs Professionals Association.

The IV International GR Forum in Brussels, Belgium (October 11, 2018)

This year the global GR Forum was held on May 26 in Istanbul, Turkey. Despite of COVID-19 pandemic the annual event was successfully organized according to the last Turkish quarantine rules. The purpose of the event was to develop cooperation with government departments and GR-specialists, lobbyists, lawyers, politicians from the USA, Turkey, Greece, India, Israel, Romania, Ukraine and other countries.  This aim was successfully achieved by the main organizers of the Forum – International Governmental Affairs Professionals Association, influential European political consulting group «SIC-Group», and the Institute for Democracy and Development “PolitА”.

There were more than 40 professionals as speakers and active participants of panel discussions from the USA, Ukraine and Turkey, among whom were Kendall Coffey (top-lawyer of the USA), famous Turkish and Ukrainian lawyers Faruk Aktay and Sergey Klets, famous American lobbyist Tim Schellberg, influential political consultants Mustafa Oguz (Turkey), Erdinch Mert (Turkey), Dr. Eyup Vural Aydin (Turkey), Ayazhan Uteuova (Kazakhstan), People’s Deputies of Ukraine Halyna Yanchenko and Olexandr Marikovskyy, a successful GR-professionals Samet Sertash, Fatih Kaya, corporate affairs director Mehmet Orgen (Turkey), the Secretary-General of SEDEFED Erhan Arslan,  a culture diplomat Yulia Gershun (Ukraine), influential entrepreneurs Mohammed Adil Jeylan (Turkey), Bilgin Haluk (Turkey), CEO of Ukrainian Airlines Evgeniy Dykhne, PR-professional Sitara Jabeen, famous Ukrainian analyst and publicist Victor Andrusiv, famous Ukrainian journalist Roman Bochkala. Also, Dimitris Konstantellos (Greece), Suryaprabha Sadasivan (India), Egon Cholakian (the USA), Sefa Gomdeniz (Turkey), Shaikh Kazybek Altay Uly (Kazakhstan), Teodora Migdalovici, Ukrainian agricultural specialist Vasyl Shtendera  took part in the International GR Forum as online speakers. 

It should  be admitted Kazakh PR-consultant Yulia Chelnokova, the president of FIBA Europe Turgay Demirel,  famous Ukrainian public figures Iryna Kopanitsa and Anna Mishchenko, Ukrainian politicians (Pavlo Polyanskyy, Andriy Gordeev, Yana Zhelyanovska), influential lawyers (Sergey Lysenko, Anatoliy Yarovyy), Yuriy Sergienko, Volodymyr Ivanov, Dmitriy Yakovlev, Vitaly Zvarich («IBOX Bank» representatives), political scientists Lev Bondarenko and Andrey Buzarov, Ukrainian successful journalist Roman Bochkala and many others.

The Fifth GR Forum is one of the biggest specialized conferences of the region. The main feature is that it unites not only American and European professionals, but Asian ones. 

Kateryna Odarchenko is the main organizer of the International V GR Forum

Kateryna Odarchenko, as the main organizer of the V International GR Forum supposed uniting successful professionals of GR and lobbying from different countries was a confirmation of regular experience exchange and influence of global professionals on local government structures. The International Government Affairs Professionals Association and European political consulting company «SIC-Group» are interested in improving the global community of international professions and holding more international conferences, round tables, and annual GR Forums soon.

Kendall Coffey and Tim Schellberg made a great impact to the discussion about lobbying tools and influence of COVID-19 on development Government Relations and lobbying in the modern world. 

Kendall Coffey, a former U.S. Attorney, Southern District of Florida, admitted the importance of uniting the international GR-community and development of lobbying during pandemic times on the Forum: «This is an extremely good time to talk about lobbying and GR. We did not know what is going to happen with business, law, governmental relations models. Pandemic is a great oppression. It seems that all sectors have survived, some of the traditions are revising». It confirms the success of the global GR and lobbying community that is facing the challenges of COVID-19 world, especially at the annual GR Forum. Mr. Coffey is annually recognized as one of Florida Trend’s Legal Elite, Florida “Super Lawyer,” and South Florida Legal Guide’s “Top Lawyers”. 

Kendall Coffey was a speaker on the V GR Forum


Visiting the Forum by American professional with long-term law practice (Mr. Coffey served as Chair, Southern District Conference, Florida Federal Judicial Nominating Commission) is a great opportunity for the international community to analyze modern GR and lobbying community in terms of COVID-pandemic.

Tim Schellberg, the founder and President of «Gordon Thomas Honeywell Governmental Affairs», an internationally known governmental affairs and government business market development firm, was one of the main speakers on the Forum. Mr. Schellberg has used over 25 years of professional experience, worldwide contacts and knowledge of global government institutions to actively lead legislative based projects in over 30 countries and within the United States. Mr. Schellberg explained the importance and secrets of GR and lobbying tools in the USA. The President of «Gordon Thomas Honeywell Governmental Affairs» admitted: «The most powerful tool in American lobbying is obviously relationships. Relationships came to government relations». In other words, Government Relations is an independent sector of international politics. Global cooperation between politicians and representatives of non-governmental organizations depends on governmental relations. 

Tim Schellberg was a speaker on the V GR Forum

Development of stakeholders, professional dialogue, an ability to manage through social media, public relations  are important tools of lobbying and GR in the USA. The same tendency is visible to Turkish colleagues, who actively took part in panel discussion «Lobbying in Turkey». 

Samet Serttash was a speaker on the V GR Forum

For example, Turkish GR-professional Samet Serttash, as a moderator and speaker, discussed an important item of paradigm shift in lobbying in Turkey under the new presidential system. Mr. Serttash is an influential government affairs director of “Herbalife Nutrition”, chairman of public policy research center (KAPSAM) in Turkey, chairman of food and agriculture policy center (GIFT) and chairman of food supplement and nutrition association of Turkey (GTBD). Mr. Serttash admitted the role of the President increased in a new political system in Turkey. It is one of the main reasons for Turkish GR-professionals and lobbyists to improve their own professional sector and unite with each other to take active part in improving Turkish political system.

Mustafa Oguz was a speaker on the V GR Forum

 Mustafa Oguz explained the features of formation of the profession of a GR-specialist in Turkey; dynamics, actors, perspectives. Mr. Oguz, as a famous Turkish consultant, founder of Istanbul consulting firm “Strategic Solutions Lab”, successfully explained the importance of business associations GR & Corporate Affairs departments in private firms as well as the role of global uncertainty and popular politics as prospects of GR-sector in Turkey.

Erhan Arslan was a speaker on the V GR Forum

Erhan Arslan, the Secretary-General of SEDEFED, Federation of Sectoral Associations and a project Director at TURKONFED, Turkish Business and Enterprise Confederation, described potential threats and prospects for the development of lobbying in Turkey. Having roots in forming policy papers and recommendations, lobbying and interest aggregation, Mr. Arslan took into account the importance of lobbying legislation and the importance of enacting it in Turkey. 

Mehmet Orgen was a speaker on the V GR Forum

Mehmen Orgen, as a representative of “Erciyas Holding”, Corporate Affairs Director; “Hello Tomorrow Turkey”; Deputy Head and Former Turkish Navy Strategy Head, explained industrial lobbying, corporate affairs and governmental relations. Mr. Orgen is member of TÜSIAD Energy Working Group; Technology, Digitalization and Innovation Subworking Group, TÜSİAD Entrepreneurship Ecosystem Working Group, TÜSİAD China Network, and Member of DEİK USA Business Council. This experience confirms the awareness of Corporate Affairs and Corporate Governance Principles of Mr. Orgen.

Bilgin Haluk was a speaker on the V GR Forum

 Bilgin Haluk, a professional in crude oil transportation and station management, which is a successful example of the trade for more than 72 years,  answered the next question: «How can Turkey achieve lobbying activities in the energy field and by establishing close relations with neighboring countries? How can we strongly transfer new structuring and lobbying activities for the future after modern GR-professionals». Mr. Haluk, as a member of the board of directors of the “Mandi group” and “Bilgin group”, has a deep understanding of lobbying in the energy field. It should be added Turkish professionals supposed renewable energy was one of the most important sectors of economics and lobbying in Turkey. 

Faruk Aktay was an active speaker of the V GR Forum 

Turkish professionals made a great impact on discussion about GR and lobbying tools and profiled associations as well. For example, Faruk Aktay explained successful practices and cases of GR-project implementation in terms of Turkish experience. Mr. Aktay took active part in the round table «Ukrainian-Turkish relations». It confirms not only his vision of international political relations, but also professional approach to learning lobbying and GR in Turkey. Mr. Kaya is a representative of Turkish legal elite.  

Fatih Kaya was an active speaker of the V GR Forum

Fatih Kaya made an insightful speech about using evidence-based policy tools in Turkey. Mr. Kaya is a successful GR-specialist in the world-known “Boehringer Ingelheim” pharma company. He has more than 15 years experience of work in Government Relations. Mr. Kaya headed International Projects and Programs Department under DG-External Economic Affairs. Turkish GR-professional worked in improving bilateral relations between Turkey and the related countries (Somalia, Mali, Pakistan, Tunisia, Algeria, Sudan, Iraq). Mr. Kaya admitted the key-role of policy tools in lobbying: « One of the tools that help us to achieve this goal is to apply evidence-based policy making processes. It should be based on legislation, data. In the long-term perspective, we had an initial one, in which we determine key-policies».

Erdinch Mert was a speaker on the V GR Forum

Erdinch Mert,  the Founder & Managing Director at «BeNova Consulting», took into account the current situation of lobbying and GR-industry. Turkish political consultant admitted COVID-times became not only a new challenge, but also a new opportunity for the international community to learn how to work during a pandemic. Mr. Mert admitted real professionals can successfully organize work even during tough times, but the main rule is to keep all important rules. Mr. Mert is skilled in strategy development, relationship building and closing sales. «BeNova Consulting» is a result-oriented management consulting firm, which specially designs solutions for companies / institutions to make an impact in the industry, and offers a different perspective with their knowledge and industry experience. 

Sitara Jabeen was an active speaker of the V GR Forum

Sitara Jabeen made an insightful speech about citizen lobbying and advocacy in the modern world. Being an influential international journalist with 20-year experience, Mrs. Jabeen successfully described all features of advocacy and lobbying in Turkey as well. Sitara Jabeen has worked in the field of PR and communications for more than ten years in humanitarian organizations. This experience is an example of a deep understanding of advocacy and lobbying processes of Turkey. Sitara Jabeen confirmed advocacy of citizens in Turkey as well as lobbying of their socio-political interests. It is a key to successful politics and a dialogue between Turkish government and non-governmental structures.

Dr. Eyup Vural Aydin was a speaker on the V GR Forum

Dr. Eyup Vural Aydin, as the chairman at Istanbul PPP Center of Excellence (PPPCoE) and the senior Advisor on PPP, explained features of new challenges of the GR-sector in infrastructure projects. Dr. Aydin admitted: «Turkey had a very strong government supportive culture and a lot of experience in public partnership in Turkish infrastructure projects». Dr. Aydin said Тurkish government paradoxically has very strong culture of communication with infrastructure representatives. For instance, PPP implemented 252 successful projects in transport and healthcare public services. The total price of that os  In last 30 projects $150 billion, which was invested by Asian development bank, the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development World Bank. It confirms not only the global investment climate in Turkey, but the international character of Turkish infrastructure projects. It is an example of successful lobbying in Turkey.

The Forum was attended by Kazakh lobbying representatives as well. Ayazhan Uteuova, the head of political and PR consulting company «Personal Project» and «Association for Business, Society and State Relations». Mrs. Uteuova is the successful Asian political technologist, who is professionally interested in writing and adopting a law on lobbying in Kazakhstan. She explained features of primaries, political and business lobbying in Kazakhstan.

Ayazhan Uteuova was a speaker on the V GR Forum

Mrs. Uteuova supposed it could be the first key to lobbying interests of specialized associations both in Kazakhstan and the international political platforms. Shaykh Kazybek Altay Uly, the Founder of LLP “Institute GR” (training of specialists in relations with Kazakh government),explained prospects for cooperation of the GR-community in Central Asia. Mr. Altay Uly admitted it is important to use soft-power practice in work of the GR-community. Also, it is rather important to implement new tools and techniques of other countries, including the USA and the EU countries, where GR is more developed. . Mr. Altay Uly believed in the success of GR and lobbying in the improvement of Kazakh agro-industry.

The International GR forum was attended by prominent international professionals, among whom were American lobbyist Egon Cholakian, Romanian private diplomacy expert Teodora Migdalovici, Greek Public Affairs and Advocacy professional Dimitris Konstantellos, and Indian Advocacy professional Suryaprabha Sadasivan. 

Egon Cholakian was an online speaker of the GR Forum

Egon Cholakian successfully explained the positions of the authorities of various countries on lobbying activities. Professional and philosophical approach to understanding modern lobbying tools of Mr. Cholakian showed the variety of lobbying tools and practices, a range of professional activities, which can differ from not only country, but also political traditions. Mr. Cholakian  is a registered lobbyist at the White House. Mr. Cholakian worked with a wide range of American politicians. It is a confirmation of a wide experience of Mr. Cholakian in the professional sector.

Teodora Migdalovici opted for formal diplomatic studies after practicing private diplomacy for over 15 years, as the ambassador of the most influential creativity festival globally, using this position not only to vouch for ideas that change the world for the better, but for her country to become an active player in the process. Having a lot of experience in the lobbying sector as well («LoveAndLobby» international project) gave her professional position as «New lobbyist» in the 21st century. Mrs. Migdalovici took into account the tectonic changement since 2008 in terms of lobbying development and private diplomacy issues.

Dimitris Konstantellos was an online speaker of the GR Forum

Dimitris Konstantellos, as a famous political and advocacy expert, explained work and development of GR during the coronavirus pandemic. Also, Mr. Konstantellos added it was an essential topic of improving and legalizing GR and lobbying in Greece. Having more than 20 years in strategy & communications advisory, reputation risk assessment & crisis management, political risk advisory, government relations, ESG-related issues, employee engagement & change management, Mr. Konstantellos is interested in international cooperation in the global GR-community.

Sefa Gomdeniz was an online speaker of the GR Forum

Sefa Gomdeniz explained mutual investment between Turkish-Ukrainian companies and Turkish-Central Asian companies in their region covering domestic and international markets. Mr. Gomdeniz is the Founder and President of «Burc Group of Companies», involved in construction, investment and trading activities in C.I.S Countries, and Representative of Ukraine and Belarus Chambers of Commerce and Industry.

Also, Turkish professional Was Co-Chairman of Turkish-Pakistan, UAE, Ukraine and Belarus, currently board member of these councils. It confirms a deep understanding of Ukrainian-Turkish investing.

Suryaprabha Sadasivan was an online speaker of the GR Forum

Suryaprabha Sadasivan is a successful Indian advocacy expert. Having more than 14 year experience in this field, the main project of Ms. Sadasivan is «Chase India», a leading policy research and government relations advisory firm in India. The Indian international expert supposed a dialogue of government and non-governmental structures and representatives is a unique one in the international community. The variety of not only cultures, but political preferences is much appreciated in the International community. Having such challenges, the most successful GR-professionals and lobbyists should be always ready for changes in terms of the international community.

Also, the Forum was attended by a list of the most influential professionals in Ukraine. For instance, Galyna Yanchenko, Ukrainian People`s deputy and the Chairman of the Public Control Council at National Anti-corruption Bureau of Ukrainе. Mrs. Yanchenko explained investment opportunities of Ukraine: conditions and patterns. Ukrainian politician added information about the work of the Parliamentary Special Commission for the Protection of Investors’ Rights and legislative changes that had been adopted in Ukraine to attract investment, including the feature of «Ukraine Invest» project.

Galyna Yanchenko was a speaker on the V GR Forum

As a famous Ukrainian analyst, Victor Andrysiv explained the role of analytics and its impact on government decision-making in Ukraine. is a former President of Ukrainian Institute of the Future. Its mission is to improve Ukrainian political culture through expert research and discussions. Mr. Andrusiv participated in the development of various public organizations and the implementation of projects, such as the New Citizen Partnership, the Ukrainian Independent Center for Political Studies.

Tatiana Ramus explained an advocacy case of the «White Ribbon Campaign» in Ukraine. 

Tatiana Ramus was a speaker on the V GR Forum

It is an international civic society movement and the world`s largest male initiative against gender-based violence and discrimination towards women and girls. Mrs. Ramus supposed advocacy of their rights is an essential practice which should be developed not only in Ukraine, but in other countries. 

Galyna Kheylo was a speaker on the V GR Forum

Galyna Kheylo, as the President of Payment Systems Association, founder of the financial and analytical center “Transformation”, successfully explained the mechanism of functioning of payment systems in Ukraine. The main thing depends on the quality of the dialogue between payment systems representatives and Ukrainian government. Also, Mrs. Kheylo agreed with Mrs. Uteuova that it would be appreciated to legitimize the law on lobbying. «If there can be a law on lobbying in Ukraine and a successful dialogue with the government, Ukrainian banks, payment systems, and retailers will advocate for their professional interests and rights» – commented Mrs. Kheylo.

«IBOX Bank» representatives, who were interested in the development of GR instruments in Ukraine, took active part in the Forum. «IBOX Bank» is one of the most influential and popular banks in Ukraine. Ivanov Volodymyr, an honorary member of the bank’s management, was convinced of the need to develop a quality dialogue between bank representatives of cryptocurrencies in Ukraine and the administrative authorities. Vitaliy Zvarych, the Chairman of the Supervisory Board of “IBOX Bank”, is convinced that it is necessary for bank representatives to exert maximum influence on the confrontation between retailers and banks. Successful implementation of this task will help reduce the price of interchange, approve loyalty programs of a number of companies, and, accordingly, protect the interests of Ukrainian citizens in the banking sector.

Dmytro Yakovlev and Vitaliy Zvarych were active participants of the V GR Forum

 Dmytro Yakovlev, the Head of the Innovation Department of IBOX Bank, confirmed the importance of establishing a cryptocurrency market in Ukraine at the legislative level. «Binance», as the first banking cryptocurrency of the state, was a confirmation of the efficiency of «IBOX Bank» as a leading representative of the latest innovations in the Ukrainian market. Serhiyenko Yuriy, a representative of IBOX Bank and an influential entrepreneur, admitted the importance of the development of correct GR relations and their approval at the legislative level between banks and retailers as a guarantee of effective operation for the Ukrainian business sector. Clearly defined rights, proposals, responsibilities of Ukrainian banks could create a solid foundation for further work and development of all other areas of Ukraine, including business. The work of «IBOX Bank» is rather influential as the financial vector of Ukraine’s development, which affects the economic policy of Ukraine. 

Evgeniy Dykhne, the CEO of Ukrainian Airlines, revealed the features of the position of business and non-governmental structures in regards to a dialogue with the government. One of the most influential business representatives admitted GR is an important issue that can influence not only the current position of the entrepreneurs and national economy, but also development of Ukrainian international image. Muhammed Adil Dzheylan, a famous Turkish businessman, public figure and the representative of ALLATRA International Movement, explained the importance of a dialogue between business representatives and government structures and its influence on culture development of international politics, public attitudes and prospects for further cultural politics of the government. 

Liron Ederry was an active speaker of the V GR Forum

Liron Ederry, the main rabby of Kryvyy Rih (Ukraine), one of the most influential Jewish public figures in the Eastern Europe, explained not only cultural aspects of GR and lobbying, but also the advocacy case of profiled associations in Ukraine. The correct dialogue with government representatives, meaningful politics and professional approach of representatives of organizations to advocating for their own rights are the main factors of GR and advocacy development not only in Ukraine, but in the whole world. Sergey Klets explained the influence of legislation and development on lobbying in Ukraine. 

Sergey Klets was an active participant of the V GR Forum

As the influential lawyer and an active representative of Ukrainian Association of Government Relations Professionals and Lobbyists, Mr. Klets was sure the law on lobbying could change the current political situation in Ukraine. The vast improvement of economic, cultural politics of the country could be the consequences of adoption of the law on lobbying. Mr. Klets was sure the active work of UAGRPL is a confirmation of improving GR and lobbying institutions in Ukraine.

Yulia Gershun took part on the V GR Forum

Yulia Gershun, a Ukrainian cultural diplomat, public and political figure, an expert for the Ukrainian delegation at the 57th UN session in New York (February 2019), admitted the features of lobbying the interests of Ukraine and promised diplomacy. This item is important not only in Eastern Europe, but also in other countries. Ms. Gershun is a representative of Ukrainian culture elite. She was awarded with the Order of Civic Valor for the activities of the charitable foundation, social and cultural projects dedicated to the development of Ukraine.

Kazakh PR-consultant Yulia Chelnokova, famous Ukrainian public figures Iryna Kopanitsa and Anna Mishchenko, Ukrainian politicians (Pavlo Polyanskyy, Andriy Gordeev, Yana Zhelyanovska), influential lawyers (Olexandra Pavlenko, Sergey Lysenko, Anatoliy Yarovyy),

Sergey Lysenko took part on the V GR Forum

 Yuriy Sergienko, Volodymyr Ivanov, Dmitriy Yakovlev, Vitaly Zvarich («IBOX Bank» representatives), political scientists Lev Bondarenko and Andrey Buzarov, Ukrainian successful journalist Roman Bochkala took active part in the panel discussions, what confirmed not only their professional interest to the GR development, but also a real success of IGAPA in organizing the V GR Forum.

Timur Chmeruk, one of the initiators of the annual International GR-Forum,  is not only a successful influential entrepreneur, but also a leading member of the Ukrainian Association of Professionals in the fields of GR and lobbying. Mr. Chmeruk is convinced that the regular organization of a global event is a brilliant opportunity to develop lobbying and GR at the international level.

Timur Chmeruk is a member of the Ukrainian Association of Professionals in the field of GR and lobbying

“The GR Forum is the regular  experience exchange organized by the Ukrainian Association of GR and Lobbying Professionals, the International Association of Government Relations Professionals (IGAPA), and the Institute for Democracy and Development “PolitA” . The GR Forum is one of the effective tools for lobbying and GR at the international level ”- Timur Chmeruk thinks.