Durbin to Travel to Cyprus, Greece and Turkey This Week

[WASHINGTON, D.C.] – Assistant Senate Majority Leader Dick Durbin (D-IL) will travel to Cyprus, Greece and Turkey over the President’s Day congressional recess. The primary focus of this trip will be the tense political situation in Cyprus.


Durbin will depart Saturday, traveling first to Cyprus, then on to Greece and Turkey. Stops in Nicosia, Athens, Ankara and Istanbul are currently planned. Due to security concerns, specific details of the trip will not be released in advance.


“For more than a generation, the situation in Cyprus has left an island and a region divided,” Durbin said. “Cyprus, Greece and Turkey are all vital allies of the United States and important to the region. We all hope that a peaceful and enduring settlement can be reached.”


Since 1974, Cyprus has been divided de facto into a government-controlled two-thirds of the island and a Turkish Cypriot administered one-third of the island. The Government of the Republic of Cyprus, which joined the European Union in 2004, continues to be the only internationally recognized government on the Island. Last year the leaders of the Greek and Turkish Cypriots launched new talks on reunifying the island.


In addition to the situation in Cyprus, Senator Durbin will discuss other matters of mutual concern with officials in Greece and Turkey.


While in Greece, Durbin plans to meet with the U.S. Ambassador and Senior Embassy staff; Members of the Greek Parliament; Prime Minister Konstandinos Karamanlis; and members of the Foreign Ministry.


In Turkey, Durbin will discuss regional matters, including Iraq, with the U.S. Ambassador; Turkish President Abdullah Gul; Deputy Prime Minister Cemil Cicek; and representatives from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Durbin also has plans to visit the Ecumenical Patriarch in Istanbul.


Durbin is not traveling as a representative of the Obama Administration. Durbin’s position as a member of the Senate Leadership and Appropriations Committee comes with the responsibility to lead delegations on official visits with senior foreign government officials regarding issues affecting United States bilateral and regional relationships. The trip will give Durbin the ability to gain firsthand knowledge of progress in the region and the challenges that still lie ahead.


Alexi Giannoulias, Illinois State Treasurer, will travel with the Senator for a portion of the trip. Florida Congressman Robert Wexler (D, FL-19) will be traveling in Turkey next week and may join Durbin for a series of meetings.