Schiff Introduces Bill Calling for End to Turkey’s Blockade of Armenia

WASHINGTON–Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) introduced legislation Thursday calling on the President and Secretary of State to urge Turkey to lift its 15 year blockade of Armenia and outline concrete steps taken by the Administration in that effort, reported the Armenian National Committee of America.
Titled the “End the Turkish Blockade of Armenia Act,” the legislation notes that “Turkey’s ongoing blockade of Armenia does not promote regional security and prosperity, thereby undermining the short-term and long-term policy objectives of the United States.” It goes on to cite that the “Department of State has estimated that the blockade is inflating Armenia’s transportation costs by between 30 and 35 percent, thereby stifling its trade and economy.” The resolution, in addition to calling for the immediate lifting of Turkey’s blockade, would mandate that the Secretary of State “submit to Congress a report that outlines the steps taken and plans made by the United States to end Turkey’s blockade of Armenia,” within thirty days of the bill’s passage.
“We need to step up pressure on Turkey to lift the draconian blockade of Armenia, permitting Armenian businesses to fully participate in the global economy and assisting Armenia’s integration into Europe,” explained Rep. Schiff.
"Turkey’s illegal blockade of Armenia represents a violation of international law, a clear hindrance to U.S. regional interests, and an immoral action intended to economically isolate and impoverish the Armenian people," stated ANCA Executive Director Aram Hamparian. "We welcome Rep. Schiff’s leadership in demanding Congressional oversight of any concrete steps the Administration has taken to pressure Turkey to lift its blockade."
The Schiff resolution is similar to legislation introduced in the 109th Congress (H.R.3103), which secured 14 cosponsors. In the 110th Congress, Rep. Schiff is lead author, along with Reps. George Radanovich (R-CA), Anna Eshoo (D-CA) and Congressional Armenian Caucus Co-Chairs Frank Pallone (D-NJ) and Joe Knollenberg (R-MI) of the Armenian Genocide Resolution, H.Res.106, which was adopted by the House Foreign Affairs Committee last October and currently has over 200 cosponsors.

The complete text of the resolution is provided below.

To direct the Secretary of State to submit a report outlining the steps taken and plans made by the United States to end Turkey’s blockade of Armenia, and for other purposes.

IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

Mr. SCHIFF introduced the following bill.

A BILL

To direct the Secretary of State to submit a report outlining the steps taken and plans made by the United States to end Turkey’s blockade of Armenia, and for other purposes.
Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled,

SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE.

This Act may be cited as the %u218%u218End the Turkish Blockade of Armenia Act”

SEC. 2. REPORT RELATING TO THE TURKISH-ARMENIAN BORDER.

(a) FINDINGS.–Congress finds the following:

(1) United States policy toward Turkey and the south Caucasus has prioritized security, conflict resolution, ensuring open borders and commercial corridors, and regional cooperation.

(2) Turkey’s ongoing blockade of Armenia does not promote regional security and prosperity, thereby undermining the short-term and long-term policy objectives of the United States.

(3) The Department of State has estimated that the blockade is inflating Armenia’s transportation costs by between 30 and 35 percent, thereby stifling its trade and economy.

(4) Turkey’s blockade of Armenia has prevented United States and international humanitarian assistance from crossing its borders, a violation of international law, international human rights and humanitarian standards, and Turkey’s commitmen’s to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE).

(5) Turkey is the only Council of Europe (CE) country and NATO member to engage in a blockade against a fellow CE country and has been repeatedly urged by the European Union (EU) to open the last closed border of Europe.

(6) United States, Turkish, NATO-Partnership for Peace, and EU security and economic interests would be advanced Turkey immediately and unconditionally lifting its ongoing 15-year blockade of Armenia.

(7) The removal of all blockades and border closures in and adjacent to the countries of the south Caucasus will provide positive incentives for United States private investment, increased trade with the West, and other forms of economic and political interactions with the global community.

(8) By lifting its blockade of Armenia, Turkey will be playing a constructive role in continuing the development of infrastructure necessary for regional communications, transportation, energy, and trade on an East-West axis.

(9) If there is to be a resolution of conflicts in the region and a reduction of tensions along borders, it is essential that the blockade of Armenia be lifted.

(b) SENSE OF CONGRESS — It is the sense of Congress that the President and Secretary of State should call upon Turkey to comply with the long-standing position of the United States that in order to restore economic, political, and cultural links with Armenia, Turkey should immediately lift its ongoing blockade with Armenia.

(c) REPORT – Not later than 30 days after the date of the enactment of this Act, the Secretary of State shall submit to Congress a report that outlines the steps taken and plans made by the United States to end Turkey’s blockade of Armenia.

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