Turkish investment on tribal lands gets blocked

Turkish investment on tribal lands gets blocked

ANKARA - Hürriyet Daily News
Turkish investment on tribal lands gets blocked

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.

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