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Media Watch 2007

12 March 2007
Source: Cyprus News Agency
Author:
Comment: The following is a report of the Cyprus News Agency of Nicosia of 12 March 2007.
Bill for US citizens to claim property in occupied Cyprus introduced
"US Congressman Frank Pallone and 16 other colleagues have introduced bipartisan legislation that would allow US citizens, who own property in the Turkish occupied areas of the Republic of Cyprus, to seek financial remedies with either the current inhabitants of their land or the Turkish government."

"Nicosia, Mar 12 (CNA) - US Congressman Frank Pallone and 16 other colleagues have introduced bipartisan legislation that would allow US citizens, who own property in the Turkish occupied areas of the Republic of Cyprus, to seek financial remedies with either the current inhabitants of their land or the Turkish government.

The bill ''authorises the President to initiate a claims programme under which the claims of US 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.''

It also ''empowers the US district courts to hear causes of action asserted by US nationals who have been excluded from their property in occupied Cyprus against private persons or entities that occupy or use the property of US nationals in occupied Cyprus.''

Furthermore, it ''empowers the United States district courts to hear causes of action asserted by US nationals who have been excluded from property their in occupied Cyprus against Turkey without having to assert those causes of action under the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act of 1976 as amended.''

Pallone is joined in leading this effort by Thaddeus McCotter and the co-chairs of the Congressional Caucus on Hellenic Issues, Carolyn Maloney and Gus Bilirakis.

The four lawmakers joined by 13 other original cosponsors, namely Zachary Space, Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, John Sarbanes, Henry Brown, James McGovern, Mike Rogers, Diane Watson, Mario Diaz-Balart, Don Payne, Frank LoBiondo, Chris Van Hollen, Shelley Berkley and Michael McNulty.

According to a press release, Pallone, a member of the Congressional Caucus on Hellenic Issues, said the bipartisan American Owned Property in Occupied Cyprus Claims Act serves as an essential response to ongoing violations of international law, and provides US nationals with long-overdue rights to seek restitution.

He added that it is unconscionable that Turkey, a US ally, who has been, and continues to be, the beneficiary of significant aid and support from this nation, excludes US citizens from property to which they hold lawful titles under the laws of the Republic of Cyprus.

''It's time Congress vindicate the property rights of US citizens in Cyprus,'' Pallone said, adding that he was ''encouraged by the strong bipartisan support this legislation has already received'' and hoped to continue building support in the coming weeks.

He noted that ''through this legislation, Americans who are being denied access to their property and even their ancestral homes will finally be able to seek restitution.''

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."