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Florida Representatives Cosponsor Legislation Urging The Republic of Turkey to Safeguard its Christian Heritage

Florida Representatives Cosponsor Legislation Urging The Republic of Turkey to Safeguard its Christian Heritage

By Taniel Koushakjian
FLArmenians Political Contributor

On Tuesday, June 15, H. Res. 306, legislation “urging the Republic of Turkey to safeguard its Christian heritage and to return confiscated church properties” was introduced by House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee Chairman on Terrorism, Nonproliferation and Trade, Rep. Ed Royce (R-CA) and House Foreign Affairs Committee Ranking Member Rep. Howard Berman (D-CA). Congressman Ed Royce is also the Co-Chair of the Congressional Caucus on Armenian Issues (Armenian Caucus). H. Res. 306 calls for the “return to their rightful owners all Christian churches and other places of worship, monasteries, schools, hospitals, monuments, relics, holy sites, and other religious properties, including movable properties, such as artwork, manuscripts, vestments, vessels, and other artifacts,” in Turkey.

Joining Congressmen Royce and Berman were 30 original cosponsors, including Florida Reps. Gus Bilirakis (R-FL) and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL). Congressman Bilirakis represents Florida’s 9th Congressional district (Palm Harbor) and serves on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Homeland Security Committee and is Vice Chairman of the Veterans’ Affairs Committee. Rep. Bilirakis has a strong voting record in support of Armenian issues, including Armenian Genocide affirmation, and is the Co-Chair of the Congressional Caucus on Hellenic Issues. Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen represents Florida’s 25th Congressional district (Miami) and Chairs the House Foreign Affairs Committee.

Rep. Gus Bilirakis (R-FL)

Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Both Chairwoman Ros-Lehtinen and Rep. Bilirakis are members of the Armenian Caucus. However, although voting in support of Armenian Genocide resolutions in 2000 and 2005, Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen voted against the same legislation in 2007 and 2010.

In addition to H. Res. 306, on June 15 Representatives Robert Dold (R-IL) and Adam Schiff (D-CA) along with Armenian Caucus Co-Chairs Reps. Ed Royce (R-CA) and Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ) introduced H. Res. 304, the Armenian Genocide resolution. Congressman Bilirakis joined his Armenian Caucus colleagues by cosponsoring H. Res. 304 on July 16. He is the only Member of the Florida delegation to consistently cosponsor Armenian Genocide resolutions. Both bills have been referred to the House Foreign Affairs Committee where they await committee action.

As the size of the Armenian community expands throughout the state, it is important for Florida Armenians to inform and educate their elected officials about important issues and concerns. From state and local governments, to our Representatives serving us in Congress, Florida Armenians are ready to play an active role in having our voice heard in Washington.

* This story was updated on July 18 at 8:47 p.m.

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Posted on June 25, 2011, in Armenian Genocide, Politics and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

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