An anti-Turkey bill in Washington, D.C., which calls on Turkey “to safeguard its Christian heritage and to return confiscated church properties” was scheduled to be voted on in the US House of Representatives on Tuesday.
The bill, titled House Resolution 306 and supported by Armenian lobbies in the US, was first introduced in June to the House Committee on Foreign Affairs as the “Return of Churches” resolution by Rep. Ed Royce (R-CA) and Rep. Howard Berman (D-CA). In addition to advocating for the return of confiscated churches, schools and hospitals and providing freedom of worship to Turkey’s Christian communities, the resolution also blamed the Ottoman Empire for “intentional destruction” of its Christian population, tacitly approving the allegations of an Armenian genocide.
The resolution was passed in the committee in July as part of an “omnibus” bill, although the statements concerning the destruction of the Ottoman Empire’s Christian population were omitted from the text.
Six months later, Armenian and Greek lobbies accelerated their efforts to get the bill brought before the House of Representatives. In order to be adopted, the resolution needs to be approved by both the House of Representatives and the US Senate.
The bill sparked angry reactions from Turkish residents in the US and US-based Turkish community organizations. Günay Evinç, president of the Assembly of Turkish American Associations (ATAA), told the Anatolian news agency that the ATAA and the Federation of Turkish American Associations (TADF) had prepared a letter together and sent it to members of the Senate.
Evinç claimed that the bill is nullified on the grounds that Turkey adopted a decree in August to return all confiscated properties of minority foundations, including Christians, claiming that this bill is “part of the Armenian lobby’s ill-intentioned efforts seeking recognition of the Armenian genocide.”