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Armenian-Americans Demanding $64 Million from Turkey

A United States court has granted Turkey 21 days to respond to a lawsuit filed by Armenian-Americans demanding compensation for property allegedly seized by the Ottoman government from its own Armenian subjects during the events of 1915. The case worth $64 million concerns properties located near and under a US airbase located in Incirlik in the southern province of Adana, reports the Hürriyet Daily News & Economic Review.

“This case is important, not only for the Armenian community but also the international one. It will set a precedent on the basis of the lawsuit that revolves around the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act, or FSIA. The Government of the Republic of Turkey is benefiting from the exploitation of these properties. As such they are to be held accountable for the consequences of their actions,” Armenian-American lawyer Vartkes Yeghiayan told the Hürriyet by e-mail.

The lawsuit was opened in 2010, to seek compensation from the Turkish state, Turkish Central Bank and the Ziraat Bank. Yeghiayan took over the case on behalf of Rita Mahtesian, Anais Harutyunyan and Alex Bakalian.

“In this case our clients are able to sue the government of the Republic of Turkey, the Central Bank of Turkey and the Ziraat Bankası because of the following reasons: Turkey committed a violation of international laws and proceeded to illegally confiscate properties from their rightful owners in the process, Turkey also proceeded to violate its own constitution and the Lausanne Treaty. But more importantly, they have used these ill-obtained properties to run commercial operations,” Yeghiayan said.

Bakalian, Mahdesian and Harutyunyan who also represent their respective families and relatives, are jointly in possession of some 11 title deeds located in the vicinity of Incirlik airbase, according to their lawyer. Yeghiayan also said they were contacted by other individuals with 15 more property deeds, while expressing his hopes that they, too, will join the case in the coming months.