US adopts bill on Christian properties in Turkey

US adopts bill on Christian properties in Turkey

WASHINGTON – Anadolu Agency
US adopts bill on Christian properties in Turkey

During the last years, several churches were returned to Christian foundations, including the Surp Harutyun Armenian Church in Istanbul's Kumkapı neighborhood in 2013. DAILY NEWS Photo

The U.S. House Committee on Foreign Affairs has adopted a bill on monitoring the return of property confiscated from Christians in Turkey and Northern Cyprus.

The Committee will put a bill before the House to provide annual assessments on the status of, and U.S. efforts to return, property such as churches to the former Christian owners.

Republican Committee Chairman Ed Royce and ranking Democrat Eliot Engel introduced the bill in March. It 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.”

If the bill is adopted, the U.S. Secretary of State will have to report no later than 180 days later on the State Department’s engagement with Turkish authorities to return Christian properties, and would have to do so until 2021.

In addition, all information would have to be summarized in the U.S annual country reports on human rights. The bill is unlikely to go for a full vote until after the summer recess.