The HDI arranged for Florida Congressman Gus Bilirakis to visit the Republic of Turkey in conjunction with the American Global Institute, a 501c3 NGO based in Virginia and Bahrain. The delegation took place from March 17 – 19, 2019, with Congressman Bilirakis accompanied by his wife Eva Bilirakis, his Chief of Staff, Elizabeth Hittos, and advisor Johanna Kossifidis.
The delegation traveled to Istanbul, Turkey and visited the Theological School of Halki on Heybeliada Island for meetings focusing on religious freedom issues with His Eminence Metropolitan Elpidophoros of Bursa. The also met with the Consul General of the U.S. Consulate in Istanbul, Jennifer L. Davis to continue discussions on religious freedom and U.S. – Turkey relations in general. The delegation continued with a tour of the Hagia Sophia and ended with a visit to the Ecumenical Patriarchate. As Chairman of the Congressional Caucus on International Religious Freedom, Congressman Bilirakis forcefully stressed the importance of religious tolerance and inclusion in Turkey.