US Rep. FrankPallone and 16 Colleagues Introduce Bill Allowing Cypriot-Americans toSeek Remedies
for Property TheyOwn inTurkish-Occupied Cyprus


Washington, D.C. --- U.S. Rep. Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ) was joined by 16 others today in introducing bipartisan legislation that would allow U.S. citizens who own property in the Turkish occupied portion of the Republic of Cyprus to seek financial remedies with either the current inhabitants of their land or the Turkish government.

Pallone is joined in leading this effort by U.S. Rep. 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).

The four lawmakers are pleased to be joined by 13 other original cosponsors: U.S. Reps. 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)

The New Jersey congressman, 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 U.S. nationals with long-overdue rights to seek restitution.

Since Turkey invaded the Republic of Cyprus in 1974, U.S. citizens who own real property in the portion of the Republic of Cyprus that is occupied by Turkey have been excluded from the use and enjoyment of that real property. Pallone said it is unconscionable that Turkey, a U.S. ally, who has been, and continues to be, the beneficiary of significant aid and support from this nation, excludes U.S. 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 U.S. citizens in Cyprus," 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."

The American Owned Property In Occupied Cyprus Claims Act re-affirms internationally-recognized principles of law on property ownership and will enable U.S. citizens to seek remedies for the unlawful exclusion from their property by: will enable U.S. citizens to seek remedies in the following three different ways:

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 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 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.



(Posting date 17 March 2007
)

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