Since May 2009, TCA has taken 119 Members of Congress and senior staffers to Turkey and surrounding countries.
The delegation, comprised of Rep. Frank Guinta (R-N.H.) and three senior Congressional staffers from the offices of Rep. Guinta, Rep. Cynthia Lummis (R-Wyo.) , and Rep. Donald Payne (D-N.J.) visited Istanbul and Ankara during their four-day visit.
Starting in Istanbul, the delegation met with Father François Yakan and Teoman Onder, president of the Chaldean Assyrian Association (KADER), at the Chaldean Catholic Church and Chaldean Center. Onder educated the group on how TCA's previous $100,000 food grant had provided major support to the country's Chaldean Christian refugees, and expressed his hope that more American organizations would step forward to help address the dire needs of the refugees.
The delegation met with several private think thanks during its visit, including the Global Relations Forum, where they discussed Turkish foreign policy and major regional issues, and the Economic Policy Research Foundation of Turkey (TEPAV), where they met with leading economists to discuss Turkey's economic development and its expanding role in the region.
In Ankara, the delegation met with the Turkish Ministry of Foreign Affairs, as well as with Jess Bailey, Deputy Chief of Mission at the U.S. Embassy, who stressed Turkey's strategic importance in the region, particularly in regards to ongoing U.S. operations in Afghanistan and the U.S.'s interests in the regional effects of the Arab Spring.
Overall, the visit provided the delegation with a unique opportunity to discuss Turkey's political and economic development with the country's leading experts, while also providing them with direct exposure to Turkish culture and the Turkish people so that they could develop a deeper understanding of a country and people who are playing an increasingly significant role in international affairs and international trade.