Ankara criticizes 'anti-Turkish' bill on Christian properties
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...