The Turkish Coalition of America’s 11th Congressional Delegation completed its visit to Turkey and the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) on October 1st. TCA has taken 116 Members of Congress and senior staffers to Turkey and surrounding countries since May 2009.
This delegation, comprised of 10 Congressional staffers, first made a brief stopover in Girne and Lefkosa, where the delegation had the opportunity to visit historical sites including Bellapais Abbey and travel along the Green Line. The delegation was hosted by the Speaker of the TRNC Parliament, Dr. Hasan Bozer and Undersecretary of the Foreign Ministry Mr. Aytug Plumer at a dinner in their honor. According to TCA President Lincoln McCurdy this visit to the TRNC provided staffers an opportunity to receive a Turkish Cypriot perspective on the current situation on Cyprus, particularly on the impact of the utterly unfair international isolation of the TRNC.
After visiting the TRNC, the delegation left for Ankara to participate in high-level meetings with US and Turkish officials. In his briefing to the delegation, US Embassy Deputy Chief of Mission Jess Baily highlighted Turkey’s increasing strategic importance for the US. Baily stressed the resilience of the Turkish economy as countries in Europe face challenging times and the benefit of US-Turkish joint business ventures. Baily also stressed the United States’ deep appreciation for Turkey's cooperation in the Middle East, particularly in the wake of the Arab Spring.
The delegation’s meeting with representatives from the Turkish Foreign Ministry provided a forum for dialogue exchange on the current state of US-Turkey relations and joint NATO missions. From Ankara, the group continued on to Patara, the birthplace of representational democracy that inspired the Founding Fathers and a leading city of the Lycian League whose principles were adopted in the US Constitution. In Istanbul, the delegation met with civil-society representatives, think tank experts, religious minority leaders, business community representatives, academics and students from Bahcesehir University.