US to Raise Ottoman Bank Accounts with Turkey

WASHINGTON–The US State Department has agreed to question Turkish authorities on Armenian assets held by the Imperial Ottoman Bank at the time of the Armenian Genocide of 1915. The decision on the bank accounts was announced in a State Department letter responding to a joint request by the Armenian Assembly of America–the Armenian National Institute and the Armenian Bar Association.

"In meetings with Turkish officials–we will inquire about the availability of bank records from the period in question and urge that the Turkish Government and the relevant banks meet with you to discuss the matter…I hope that this matter can be resolved in a way that is just and equitable to all involved," US Under Secretary of State Stuart Eizenstat said in a letter to the three organizational charimen.

The initiative follows the recent precedent set by Holocaust victims requiring Swiss banks to turn over assets held in dormant bank accounts. With the active support of the Clinton Administration–a $1.25 billion settlement was reached between Jewish groups–Holocaust survivors and Swiss banks.

With the Clinton Administration’s refusal to recognize the Armenian Genocide–it is questionable how the issue of Ottoman bank accounts will be raised by the State Departmen–whose Secretary as well has deemed the events of 1915 as massacres and not Genocide.

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