Number 221 | February 25, 2013
The Turkish Coalition of America’s 16th Congressional Delegation completed its visit to Turkey on February 24th. Since 2009 TCA has taken more than 155 members of Congress and senior staffers to Turkey and surrounding countries.
This delegation, comprised of 14 Congressional staffers, first visited Ankara where the group had the honor of participating in a wreath-laying ceremony at Anitkabir, the mausoleum of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk. The delegation also participated in high-level meetings with U.S. and Turkish officials, including the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Economy, members of Parliament and the Turkish Cooperation and Coordination Agency (TIKA). These meetings allowed the staffers to engage in an active dialogue on the current state of U.S.-Turkey relations, Turkey’s foreign policy, and its booming economy. Meetings were also held with the Ankara office of the German Marshall Fund and the Eurasian Research Center.
U.S. Deputy Chief of Mission Jess Bailey briefed the delegation on Turkey’s strategic importance to the U.S. According to TCA President Lincoln McCurdy, the visit in Ankara provided staffers the unique opportunity to gain first-hand knowledge of the current political landscape in Turkey from multiple perspectives.
From Ankara, the delegation traveled to Istanbul, where they met with leaders of the Turkish American Business Association (TABA) and the Turkish American Business Council (TAIK). Meetings were also held with representatives from civil-society, think tank organizations, religious minority communities and media. The group also visited Kadir Has University and Robert College, which, as the first U.S. education institution established abroad, is celebrating its 150th anniversary.
The delegation took a one-day trip to Gaziantep where they met with the Gaziantep Chamber of Commerce. There, the delegation was briefed on Turkey’s trade relations and the impact of Syrian refugees on the local economy. Located on the ancient Silk Road, Gaziantep is a major hub for trade between Turkey and Syria, which has been severely impacted by the continued unrest in Syria. Before departing, the delegation had the opportunity to see the collection of Roman mosaics at Zeugma Mosaic Museum, the largest in the world.