Prime Minister came together with representatives of minority communities at an official dinner held in Istanbul: “Our main watchword will continue to be the principle of equal citizenship”
The official dinner was held at the Dolmabahçe Prime Minister’s Office with the participation of Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomeos, Deputy Patriarch of the Greek Orthodox Church Peter Stefanos, Turkey Chaldean Catholic Community Patriarchal Vicar François Yakan, Patriarchal Vicar of the Syriac Orthodox Church in Istanbul and Ankara, Turkey’s envoy to the Vatican Mehmet Paçacı, Deputy Patriarch of the Turkey Syriac Catholic Church, Archbishop of the Turkey Armenian Catholic Church Levan Zekiyan, Chief Rabbi of the Jews of Turkey İsak Haleva, and Armenian Deputy Patriarch Aram Ateşyan.
President of the Presidency of Religious Affairs Prof. Dr. Mehmet Görmez, Grand Mufti of Istanbul Rahmi Yaran and President of the Directorate General of Foundations Adnan Ertem were also present at the dinner.
Speaking before the meeting closed to the press, Davutoğlu said, “Our main watchword will continue to be the principle of equal citizenship”.
In his speech, Davutoğlu drew attention to increasing Islamophobia across Europe, adding, “We must raise our voice in unison against Islamophobia and discrimination against different faiths”.
“This table represents deeply-rooted traditions”
Davutoğlu stated that there was a special meaning in holding the dinner on this day, adding that the two-week period comprising the Mawlid Qandil, Hanukkah, and the Catholic and Orthodox Christmas Days was “an auspicious sign of how the neighbouring traditions of Abrahamic faiths took deep roots across all corners of these lands”.
Davutoğlu went onto explain the significance of the dinner with the words, “This table is one which sets out to bring peace and well-being to humanity following the path of the Prophet Abraham. We consider no tradition as alien to these lands. In this sense, I find it important not to use the concept of minority too frequently. We are all part of this big family.”
“Our main watchword is equal citizenship”
Davutoğlu explained that “the principle of equal citizenship, applied in the recent period in a concrete manner with the return of foundation properties, [would] continue to be [their] main watchword”.
Davutoğlu, reminding that Islamophobia and anti-Semitism are on the rise, said: “We must display the will to stand with the same determination against faith-based discrimination whomever it targets. This would be the best legacy we could leave to future generations.”
A new church for the Syriac community
At the meeting, it was also announced that the decision had been taken for the construction of a new church, marking a first in the history of the Republic of Turkey other than renovation projects, or the return of old churches. The Syriac community will build a church in Yeşilyurt, and the land for the church will be allocated by the state.