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Public Statements

Indian Tribal Trade and Investment Demonstration Project Act of 2011

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

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Mr. SARBANES. I thank the gentleman for yielding. I rise in opposition to H.R. 2362 because I don't believe that the preferential consideration which it gives to the interest of one country, Turkey, can be justified.

There is no dispute over what many of our colleagues have said today, which is that there are tremendous needs on the part of Native American tribes, and a desire I think shared widely here for economic development opportunities on tribal lands. We all know the statistics. But that goal of achieving enhanced economic development on tribal lands has been achieved through the HEARTH Act. As Congresswoman Maloney just indicated a minute ago, Michael Black, director of the Bureau of Indian Affairs, testified that the HEARTH Act ``fosters the same goals identified in H.R. 2362 on a broader scale.'' We don't need this legislation to accomplish all of the important things that have been articulated here.

I have tremendous respect for Congressman Cole, and he just gave a very powerful articulation of the legacy that he carries in his DNA and why he is so passionate about these issues, and we share his perspective on the important need to develop tribal lands, but this particular piece of legislation is redundant at best, and it gives this unjustified preference to Turkish interests.

This presents a number of issues. First of all, there are some concerns on the trade front. Now, I understand the bill was amended because originally it would have given exclusive opportunity to Turkish enterprises without regard to the rest of the WTO nations. Now that's been changed so other the WTO nations can participate.

But if you look at the bill, Turkey's interests are discussed all through it. It's infused with language about Turkey. The findings section is about Turkey. And frankly, a Turkish enterprise could take this bill, once it passed, and use it as a passport to get preferential consideration with respect to these economic opportunities. So I think it does present some continued concern with respect to trade concerns.

But on the foreign policy front, even if you felt it were important to give preferential consideration for purposes of a demonstration project or a pilot project to one nation's interest over others, why would you select the country of Turkey given its record? That's why Ranking Member Berman has sent a Dear Colleague letter around urging opposition to this bill, because he knows from a foreign policy standpoint the record of Turkey.

I have to mention a few of these things because they're compelling. Increasingly, Turkey has become hostile to our ally, Israel, recently threatening to mobilize its air and naval assets to escort ships to Gaza and to stop Israel from developing energy sources in its Exclusive Economic Zone in the eastern Mediterranean.

Secondly, in June of 2010, NATO member Turkey voted against the United Nations resolution imposing sanctions against Iran to thwart its nuclear weapons program.

Thirdly, Turkey has just now been put on the U.S. Commission on International and Religious Freedom watch list for its widespread discrimination of minority religious communities.

Fourthly, Turkey has threatened the use of force to stop Texas-based Noble Energy--this is an American company--from drilling for oil and gas off the shores of Cyprus and Israel and to blacklist any businesses that work with Cyprus or Israel for natural resource extraction.

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Mr. SARBANES. We've heard the discussion of how Turkey has continually denied the Armenian genocide of 1915 to 1923 during which 1.5 million Armenians perished and since 1993 has maintained a destabilizing blockade of Armenia.

Now some would say these are irrelevant issues. They're very relevant. If you're going to choose a country to which you're going to extend some preferential consideration, these kinds of activities and this kind of legacy ought to be part of your consideration.

Finally, for more than 38 years, Turkey has illegally occupied the northern third of the island Republic of Cyprus, which is a member of the European Union. In fact, as of July 1, Cyprus assumed the presidency of the European Union, but Turkey refuses to recognize this.

These are all relevant to the question of whether a preferential consideration ought to be extended to one country. It's not justified, and it's not warranted. I join Ranking Member Markey and Ranking Member Berman in urging opposition to H.R. 2362.

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