Sunday, August 12, marked the conclusion of the 15th congressional trip sponsored by the Turkish Coalition of America. This delegation of 12 senior Senate and House staffers learned of the need for continued American and Turkish support for peace and stability in the Balkans through visits to cities in both Bosnia and Turkey.
While in Bosnia, delegates visited both Mostar, the famous cultural bridge of the Balkans, and the capital of Sarajevo. They participated in high-level meetings with President Bakir Izetbegovic of Bosnia, officials from the U.S. and Turkish Embassies, and the International Commission on Missing Persons.
"The trip to Bosnia brought to light Turkey's efforts in fostering peace and economic development in the Balkans," said TCA President G. Lincoln McCurdy. "The delegation witnessed the spirit of multiculturalism that has survived in Sarajevo through the city's churches, mosques and synagogues."
He added, “The delegation was also briefed on the upcoming 100th anniversary of the start of the Balkan Wars, a tragic era of conflict that led to the death and forced exile of approximately 1.5 million Ottoman Muslims which would shape the cultural and political makeup of today’s Balkan region.”
In Ankara Turkey, participants gained knowledge on topics ranging from Turkish foreign and domestic policies to U.S.-Turkey relations through high-level meetings with officials from the U.S. Embassy and Turkey’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
In Istanbul, the group discussed women’s education and rights, and the influx of refugees from Syria with local NGO leaders, religious freedom with religious minority community members, and the Arab Spring. The delegation also visited a number of major cultural sites while in Turkey, including the bouleteurion in Patara, the birthplace of proportional representation.
With the conclusion of this trip, TCA has taken more than 150 members of Congress and their staff to Turkey with visits to the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, Bosnia and Macedonia.