April 3, 2009 - 29 Members of Congress sent a letter to President Barack Obama in the advent of his first official visit to Turkey . Led by the Co-Chairs of the Congressional Caucus on US-Turkish Relations and Turkish Americans, Rep. Robert Wexler (D-FL), Rep. Ed Whitfield (R-KY) and Rep. Kay Granger (R-TX), the letter stated the “unequivocal support” of the Members for the President’s upcoming trip to Turkey and hailed it as a “historic opportunity to enhance one of our nation’s most important strategic partnerships.”
The Members of Congress underscored that Turkey was perfectly suited to “meet the threats of this century” and highlighted Turkey ’s contributions in Afghanistan , its positive and cooperative role in efforts to secure and stabilize Iraq and its role fighting international terrorism.
The members of Congress drew attention to the death and destruction caused by PKK terrorists and stated that the “US must stand with our Turkish allies as they combat the PKK domestically and in Northern Iraq” and urged the President and his Administration to assist Turkey in counterterrorism efforts, including by providing actionable intelligence. The Members also urged the President to use this visit as an opportunity to re-iterate US support to Turkey ’s EU admission process and to the rapprochement efforts between Turkey and Armenia . The Members also highlighted their support for establishing stronger people to people links at the educational, cultural and social levels between the two nations. [Full text of letter]
Separately, four senior members of Congress, Robert Wexler (Chairman, House International Relations Subcommittee on Europe, House International Relations Committee), Ike Skelton (Chairman, House Armed Services Committee), Alcee L. Hastings (C-Chairman, Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe ) and John P. Murtha (Chairman, House Appropriations Subcommittee on Defense) expressed their support to the ongoing dialogue between Turkey and Armenia in a letter sent to Turkish President Abdullah Gul and Armenian President Serzh Sargsyan. The leaders hailed the efforts “unprecedented in scope and nature” and stated that they deserved the highest level of support in the United States and the international community. The letter further stated that it was essential that “building blocks of trust and cooperation are established between Armenian and Turkey to heal open wounds, mend broken hearts and create a better future for both nations and peoples." [Full text of letter]