Illinois should continue working with Turkey to increase trade, cultural exchanges and efforts to handle migrants from war-torn Syria, according to the Turkish Consul General to the Midwest.
Last week both chambers of the Illinois General Assembly heard from Umut Acar, who addressed the need for the U.S. and Illinois to help with growing immigration as a result of the discord in Syria.
“As Turkey can no longer shoulder this responsibility alone, we ask our allies and EU for burden sharing,” Acar said.
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Turkey has spent billions to help Syrian refugees, but more can be done among allies to address the migration crisis, he continued.
The Associated Press reports that since 2012, the federal government has allocated $55 million to Illinois for refugee services. In November, following the Paris terrorist attacks, Gov. Bruce Rauner requested more information from the Obama administration about plans to relocate refugees to the U.S. and Illinois.
Meanwhile, Acar praised the state’s cultural diversity and provided some priorities for his office.
“Strengthening relations between Turkey and Illinois in areas of common interest, particularly in trade and education, will be high on my agenda during my term in Chicago,” Acar said.
With a trade volume of $500 million between Illinois and Turkey that has grown year after year, Acar said there remains great, untapped potential.
Acar also said Turkish investors and start-up companies in Illinois are increasing every year, something he hopes to foster during his time in office.