Reta Jo Lewis
Special Representative for Global Intergovernmental Affairs
Municipal Building
Washington, DC
October 3, 2011

Good morning. I am honored to be here today to witness the signing of the Sister City agreement between Washington, D.C. and Ankara. Thank you Mayor Gray and Mayor Gokcek for inviting me here and for signing this important agreement. We are grateful that Ambassador Tan is here with us today.

Since Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton created the Office of Global Intergovernmental Affairs in 2010, I have witnessed firsthand the overwhelming power of Sister City relationships in citizen diplomacy and cultural and economic exchanges across the United States and around the world.

Turkey and the United States have one of the deepest, broadest, and most dynamic bilateral relationships in the world. We are very committed to continuing to strengthen and expand that relationship. Our two nations share common values, goals, and mutual interests across a wide spectrum of issues. Just three months in office, President Obama made an historic visit to Ankara to underscore the importance of the relationship. In outlining his vision of the U.S.-Turkish partnership in an address to the Turkish Parliament, the President said, “Turkey is a critical ally. Turkey is an important part of Europe. And Turkey and the United States must stand together – and work together – to overcome the challenges of our time.”

It is indeed fitting that our capital cities, Washington, D.C. and Ankara, are embarking on a long-term partnership to link city governments, business and cultural communities and citizens. I feel confident that this cooperative venture will be highly beneficial to the citizens of both capitals who have much in common and serve as beacons of culture and diplomacy for their respective nations. Yesterday, the Washington, D.C. Turkish Festival successfully highlighted citizen engagement while promoting Turkey’s rich and diverse culture in Washington, D.C.

I believe that this Sister City relationship between Washington, D.C. and Ankara will foster strong bonds across culture, politics and business. It is a relationship between cities, but more importantly, a relationship between the people of those cities. On behalf of the U.S. Department of State and Secretary Clinton, I would like to congratulate Washington, D.C. and Ankara on their new Sister City relationship.