July 13, 2010, Washington, DC - A delegation of 24 staff members from the US House of Representatives organized and sponsored by the Turkish Coalition of America visited Bosnia and Herzegovina and Turkey last week.
During the Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) portion of the visit, the TCA delegation included a select gr-up of Turkish experts and scholars on the Balkans. The delegation met with Haris Silajdžić, the Chairman of the Presidential Council of Bosnia and Herzegovina; Ana Trišić Babić, the BiH Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs; Vefahan Ocak, Turkey's Ambassador to BiH and Jonathan Moore, the Deputy Chief of Mission from the US Embassy in BiH. The delegation also visited Camp Butmir, where European Union peacekeeping forces (EUFOR), which include a Turkish force, oversee the implementation of the Dayton Accords and the Srebrenica-Potočari Memorial for the victims of the Srebrenica Genocide. On July 11th, a few days after the delegation's visit to Bosnia and Herzegovina and the 15th anniversary of the mass killings, 800 newly identified victims were laid to rest in the cemetery at the Memorial.
The planning and logistics for the delegation’s trip to BiH was assisted by the Bosniak-American Advisory Council for Bosnia and Herzegovina (BAACBH) and the American University in BiH. The visit is an extension of collaborations between TCA and BAACBH which include a multi-year TCA grant that supports the efforts of BAACBH to represent the Bosniak-American community in Washington, DC.
After concluding its visit to Bosnia and Herzegovina, the congressional delegation traveled to Turkey and visited Ankara, Istanbul, Patara and Canakkale. In Ankara and Istanbul, the delegation met with Doug Silliman, the Deputy Chief of Mission for the US Embassy in Ankara; Sharon Wiener, the US Consul General in Istanbul; Ambassador Selim Yenel, Deputy Undersecretary for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Turkey; as well as members of the academic community, nongovernmental organizations, and business leaders. The delegation's visit to Patara highlighted a deep historical connection between Anatolia and the United States. Patara, the capital of the Lycian League, was the birthplace of proportional representation, which was adopted by the founding fathers and incorporated into the US Constitution. The delegation also visited Canakkale, a strategic energy and transit waterway, Troy, the Gallipoli peninsula and the Gallipoli Memorial, dedicated to the fallen soldiers of the historic Gallipoli battle during WWI.
"For most of the participants, this was their first visit to both Turkey and Bosnia and Herzegovina," said G. Lincoln McCurdy, President of TCA. "TCA is privileged to have the opportunity to introduce Congressional staff to one of America's greatest strategic and commercial allies, as well as to the key role Turkey and the United States are playing to secure peace and stability in the Balkans."