The Turkish Coalition of America joins all Americans in mourning the passing of legendary West Virginia Senator Robert Byrd. Senator Byrd was one of Turkey’s most enthusiastic supporters in Congress, and a friend to Turkish Americans.
“With the passing of Senator Byrd, one of the most dedicated public servants this country has ever seen, Turkish Americans have lost a friend and a champion,” said G. Lincoln McCurdy, TCA President. “Senator Byrd cared deeply about tying the U.S. and Turkey together through complementary foreign policies and through mutually beneficial trade and investment opportunities. He backed up his rhetoric with positive action, and the US-Turkey relationship has benefited over recent decades thanks to his hard work.”
Senator Byrd had a long track record of promoting and defending the US-Turkey relationship. In 1990, during an earlier push by Armenian Americans to pass the so-called “Armenian genocide” resolution, Sen. Byrd worked exhaustively to block passage of the resolution, eventually leading a successful three-day filibuster which resulted in the defeat of the resolution in the Senate.
A decade later, Sen. Byrd was the driving force behind the creation of the Appalachian-Turkish Trade Project, an initiative to promote mutually beneficial trade and investment programs, and to build a long lasting and mutually meaningful relationship between the 13 Appalachian states and Turkey. Today, the Trade Project is operated as an official program of the U.S. Commercial Service, whose staff in Turkey and the U.S. works with Appalachian-area companies to identify reciprocal investment and business opportunities in key Turkish cities, including Ankara, Istanbul, Izmir, and Adana.
“Senator Byrd’s death leaves a formidable absence in the Senate, one that will not be easily filled,” noted McCurdy. “The Turkish Coalition of America stands ready to work with his successor, though, to ensure that the people of West Virginia are well represented, and that the burgeoning trade relationship between the US and Turkey continues to benefit West Virginia and the other Appalachian states that Senator Byrd supported until he died.”