Hurriyet Daily News, Turkey
June 28 2014


Ankara criticizes 'anti-Turkish' bill on Christian properties

ANKARA (AA)

Turkey has strongly criticized a U.S. House committee bill that
directs the State Department to monitor the return of property
confiscated from Christians in Turkey and the Turkish Republic of
Northern Cyprus.

"While the clear and concrete steps that Turkey has taken for the
improvement of the rights and freedoms of all of its citizens,
including for the non-Muslim minorities are evident; attempts by
anti-Turkish circles in the U.S. Congress, driven by domestic
political considerations, to push such unconstructive and baseless
initiatives are unacceptable," Turkey's Foreign Ministry said in a
statement June 27.

The bill, which passed through the House Foreign Affairs Committee on
Thursday, requires the U.S. secretary of state to provide an annual
report to Congress regarding Washington's efforts to secure the return
and restoration of "stolen, confiscated, or otherwise unreturned
Christian properties" in Turkey and the northern Cyprus.

Terming the bill as "null and void as far as Turkey is concerned," the
statement stressed that such initiatives were incongruous with the
existing spirit of partnership and alliance between the two
traditional allies.

Introduced by Republican Committee Chairman Ed Royce and ranking
Democrat Eliot Engel in March, the bill received bipartisan support in
the committee, but was met with opposition from Democrats Gerry
Connolly and Gregory Meeks.

"It simply does not reflect the relationship the U.S. has cultivated
with Turkey, a close and trusted NATO ally," said Connolly. "Passing
this legislation will lead to a rupture in our relationship with
Turkey at a time when the preservation of our strategic alliance
should be a top priority."

The bill is unlikely to go for a full vote until after the summer recess.

It requires the U.S. secretary of state to report no later than 180
days later on the State Department's engagement with Turkish
authorities to return the properties.

Lauding the adoption of the bill, Chairman of the Armenian National
Committee of America Ken Hachikian said the measure sent a strong
signal to Ankara that it must come to terms with its obligations to
Armenians.

The Armenian diaspora claims that the loss of lives suffered by
Ottoman Armenians during their relocation in 1915 constitutes a
"genocide."

Turkey rejects the claim, saying that both Turks and Armenians were
killed when a portion of the Armenian population sided with invading
Russians and staged an armed revolt against the Ottoman authority
during the First World War.

The uprisings were followed by a decision by the government in
Istanbul to relocate the Armenians living in eastern Anatolia.

June/28/2014

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From: Baghdasarian