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“American-Owned Property in Occupied Cyprus Claims Act” Re-Introduced in Both Senate and House
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE CONTACT: GEORGIA ECONOMOU
March 14, 2007—No. 18 (202) 785-8430

“American-Owned Property in Occupied Cyprus Claims Act” Re-Introduced in Both Senate and House

Washington, DC—On February 27, 2007 Senator Olympia J. Snowe (R-ME) re-introduced the American-Owned Property In Occupied Cyprus Claims Act, Senate bill S. 695. Joining Senator Snowe as an original co-sponsor is Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ). The companion House bill, H.R. 1456, was re-introduced on March 9, 2007 by Representative Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ). This bipartisan legislation has 16 original co-sponsors.

The co-sponsors for H.R. 1456 include Representative Thaddeus McCotter (R-MI) and the co-chairs of the Congressional Caucus on Hellenic Issues, U.S. Reps. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) and Gus Bilirakis (R-FL). Also including: Representatives Zachary Space (D-OH), Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), John Sarbanes (D-MD), Henry Brown (R-SC), James McGovern (D-MA), Mike Rogers (R-AL), Diane Watson (D-CA), Mario Diaz-Balart (R-FL), Don Payne (D-NJ), Frank LoBiondo (R-NJ), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Shelley Berkley (D-NV) and Michael McNulty (D-NY).

This bill will enable U.S. citizens who own property in the Turkish occupied territory of the Republic of Cyprus to seek financial remedies with either the current inhabitants of their land or the Turkish government.

Since the 1974 invasion and occupation of the northern part of Cyprus, the property of Greek Cypriots and American nationals in northern occupied Cyprus was illegally taken, occupied and used by the Turkish authorities and individuals. This new bill will allow American nationals to seek financial remedies regarding their property through the following three methods:

  1. The bill authorizes the President to initiate a claims program under which the claims of U.S. nationals who Turkey has excluded from their property in occupied Cyprus can be judged by the Foreign Claims Settlement Commission (FCSC) and compensated through government-to-government negotiations between the United States and Turkey.
  2. The bill empowers the United States district courts to hear causes of action asserted by U.S. nationals who have been excluded from their property in occupied Cyprus against private persons or entities that occupy or use the property of U.S. nationals in occupied Cyprus.
  3. The bill empowers the United States district courts to hear causes of action asserted by U.S. nationals who have been excluded from their property in occupied Cyprus against Turkey without having to assert those causes of action under the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act of 1976 as amended.

“AHI congratulates Senator Olympia Snowe, Senator Robert Menendez and Congressman Pallone for re-introducing this important legislation. In addition, we congratulate the other 16 original co-sponsors of the House bill,” said AHI Executive Director Nick Larigakis. He also stated that, “AHI will now contact the grass roots leadership and members, including the wider Greek American community to encourage them to write and call their Senators and Congressmen and urge them to co-sponsor this legislation.”

"It's time Congress vindicate the property rights of U.S. citizens in Cyprus," Congressman Pallone said. "I'm encouraged by the strong bipartisan support this legislation has already received and hope to continue building support in the coming weeks. Through this legislation, Americans who are being denied access to their property and even their ancestral homes will finally be able to seek restitution."

Congressman Pallone’s office stated: “Pallone first introduced this legislation in the 108th Congress. He worked with Nick Larigakis, Executive Director of the American Hellenic Institute (AHI), and Nick Karambelas, volunteer counsel of AHI, for several months to draft the legislation, and he thanks them for their invaluable contribution.”

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For additional information, please contact Georgia Economou at (202) 785-8430 or [email protected]. For general information regarding the activities of AHI, please view our Web site at http://www.ahiworld.org.