The Turkish Coalition of America’s (TCA) 10th Congressional Delegation visit to Turkey concluded this week. Commencing with an inaugural trip in May 2009, TCA has since taken more than 100 Representatives and senior staffers to Turkey to help strengthen the US-Turkey relationship.
This delegation, comprised of 10 senior Congressional staff members, was granted the opportunity to meet with U.S. and Turkish officials, civil-society representatives, think tank experts, religious minority leaders, business community representatives, academics, and members of the press. In addition to attending meetings in Ankara and Istanbul, the group visited the famed Gallipoli battlefields on the shores of the Dardanelles and the legendary site of Troy. The delegation was the first to be granted a glimpse of the nearly fully-restored Bouleteurion (or council chamber) in Patara, the capital of the ancient Lycian Federation, considered to be the earliest example of a Republican form of government, and an inspiration to our founding fathers.
The delegation conducted several high-level meetings in Ankara. Deputy Undersecretary of the Ministry of Economy Damlaci spoke on the recent state of the Turkish economy and discussed areas of potential growth for bilateral trade between Turkey and the US. He emphasized possibilities in the energy, construction and tourism sectors as well as efforts to increase trade and investment between Turkey and Indian Country. To underscore the importance placed upon further partnership with Native Americans, Istanbul Technical University’s academic leadership discussed its collaboration with TCA to provide scholarships to Native American students wishing to study in Turkey.
In their briefing, US Embassy officials stressed Turkey’s strategic importance and shared their views on Turkey’s domestic and foreign policy issues, US-Turkey relations, and Turkey’s impressive economic development and future potential. The Turkish Foreign Ministry briefing expanded on Turkey’s relations with its neighbors and stressed the importance of Turkey’s mediation in the region. The briefing underscored the importance of US-Turkey relations in addressing the most challenging regional and global issues.
To cap off the 10th delegation’s visit to Turkey, the TCA delegation participated in a reception hosted by ARMAGGAN in honor of Renee Fleming, the famed American soprano, who was visiting Istanbul for a concert and also had a chance to meet US Consul General Scott Kilner.
Upon the trip’s successful conclusion, TCA President Lincoln McCurdy expressed that the visit was designed to enhance understanding among US congressional staff about opportunities and challenges on issues of critical importance to the US and Turkey. “Turkey plays a critical role in nearly all foreign and security policy interests of the United States in the region and beyond. Our congressional delegations serve the TCA mission to educate US policy makers on the importance of the US-Turkey partnership and strengthen people-to-people diplomacy between the two nations,” said McCurdy.