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ECONOMICS > Turkish investment on tribal lands gets blocked

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The US House of Representatives narrowly voted against a bill that would allow for Turkey to engage in economic development projects on US tribal lands

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This file photo shows the Turkish Ambassador to the US dancing with Native American Indian tribal members at his official residence in Washington DC last year. Hürriyet photo

This file photo shows the Turkish Ambassador to the US dancing with Native American Indian tribal members at his official residence in Washington DC last year. Hürriyet photo

The U.S. House of Representatives defeated a measure that singled out Turkey for approval to engage in economic development projects on tribal lands in the United States late July 23. The measure failed to receive the two-thirds majority required, narrowly failing to pass in a House vote of 222 to 160 with 49 representatives abstaining from voting.

H.R. 2362: the Indian Tribal Trade and Investment Demonstration Project Act of 2011 would have enhanced Turkey’s role in investing in American Indian tribal areas. The act was initially introduced in June of 2011 by Rep. Tom Cole (R-OK), himself an American Indian, as a means of limiting foreign trade preferences on Indian tribal lands to one country, Turkey. Supporters of its adoption were forced to expand their measure to allow all World Trade Organization countries similar opportunities.

Most voted in favor of bill

A vast majority of delegates and representatives voted in favor of the bill, while those holding special ties with Armenia and Greece opposed it.

“To put it quite simply, there is no good reason for passage of this legislation. In fact, there are a whole host of reasons why this legislation should fail today,” said Armenian Caucus co-chair Frank Pallone, a Democrat from New Jersey, voicing his strong opposition to the bill. Citing various reasons, including Turkey’s denial of the Armenian genocide and “illegal occupation of Northern Cyprus,” Representative Pallone urged his colleagues to vote against it.

Hellenic Caucus co-chair Carolyn Maloney, a Democrat from New York, called the bill “unnecessary,” given that Congress had already adopted a more comprehensive measure, the Hearth Act. She also noted the opposition of the ranking members of the House Natural Resources and Foreign Affairs Committees, Representatives Edward Markey, a Democrat from Massachusetts, and Howard Berman, a Democrat from California, and also raised concerns about “Turkey’s human rights record and restrictions on religious freedom.”

Representative John Sarbanes, a leading member of the Greek lobby, said that he did not believe that providing preferential treatment to one country could be “justified.” Echoing the sentiments of Pallone and Maloney, Sarbanes raised concerns about Turkey’s “increasingly hostile” actions toward U.S. allies, including Israel, Cyprus and Armenia, and called for a recorded vote. Sarbanes also noted that two years ago, while serving as a member of the United Nations Security Council, Turkey voted against sanctions on Iran to thwart its nuclear weapons program.

July/25/2012

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READER COMMENTS

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Morse Fan

7/26/2012 12:16:54 AM

Finally: Mitt Romney. Yes, a lot of his party dislikes Turkey, but, he's going to get their votes. Many more like anyone who is nice to Israel. He can actually afford to be broadminded, and he's the one who understands business. But he will not risk being burned by a country that burned a predecessor who probably lost for showing it unreturned favoritism. It is not about Israel. It is about interests. So in the end, Israel will apologize, and Turkey will accept. This bill may yet pass.

Morse Fan

7/25/2012 11:58:42 PM

Patch it up with Israel, and things will change -- for many reasons. For now, Obama thinks, "I just spent tons of political capital just to ask for this favor, and they STILL say "no? When they get a lot of clout for it?" We respect principles, but he cannot and will not give a lucrative opportunity on tribal lands to a country who does not act like a friend when he really needs it. This is hardball politics; he's squeezing you hard, and there is no chance he'll reward it. Would you?

Morse Fan

7/25/2012 11:22:17 PM

Mark Tak is sort of right, but there's more. You're Barack Obama. You've been a terrible American president. But you did have one idea that wasn't wrong: the notion that the U.S. needs to be more broadminded about relations with Muslim countries. You tried, and by American standards, it was a huge disaster. You'd like to have something to show for it. The only quick thing is "Turkey and Israel become friends again," and it happens to be a good idea anyway. Perfect, right!

Blue Beyond

7/25/2012 9:59:24 PM

In the past, the Jewish lobby AIPAC would have helped Turkey with legislation like this. Turks can thank Mr. Erdogan's anti-Israel policies for diminished influence in the U.S.

sam stevens

7/25/2012 8:44:39 PM

Mr Somalia...... of course Turkey would never be guilty of anything like that ?

Mark Tak

7/25/2012 6:59:05 AM

When will you all realize that US is not a friend of Turkey as long as Jewish lobby is in full control of US congress,Turks should stop making enemy of Russia by becoming a strong arm of US foreign policy in the ME, pendering to US and Israel, US only buys 2.5 billion form Turkey and Russia 10 Bilion, Iran and Russia are the biggest supliers of OIl and Gas for Turkey, when re you all wake up and smell the coffee,how long Turks will be humiliated in US?many more to come dont worry

Tevfik Alp

7/25/2012 5:38:44 AM

Is it surprising to see the perpetual collective animosity? “Turkey’s human rights record and restrictions on religious freedom"? I wonder, if Turkey is alone in this issue? But again, it seems like, it is ok if they do it, but it is not ok if Turkey does it.

MR Somalia

7/25/2012 4:54:09 AM

I see America is still oppressing the indigenous people denying them every right to own some income and become self reliant. Thats the truth about America and the UN should sanction them for denying the locals their basic rights.
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