Erdoğan says Syriac Orthodox Church is new wealth for Istanbul
Erdoğan attended a groundbreaking ceremony of the Syriac Orthodox Mor Efrem Church in Istanbul.
Speaking at the ceremony, he said construction of the church would be completed in two years.
"Like all their other issues, meeting the worshipping needs of the Assyrian community, the ancient children of our geography, is the duty of the state of the Republic of Turkey," Erdoğan said.
"We are a nation which has been ruling over this region for almost a millennium, and Istanbul for 566 years. Throughout this long history, our region has always been the heart of religious, ethnic and cultural diversity, most importantly of the conscience of humanity," he added.
"Although suffering in our region over the last 150 years have caused many troubles and much destruction, we have never allowed even the slightest weakness in our will to coexist. To us, anyone who has affection and loyalty for Turkey and contributes to [the country] is a first-class citizen," Erdoğan underlined.
He said that Turkey is currently hosting nearly 4 million Arabs, Kurds and Turkmens as well as Muslims, Assyrians and Ezidis who came from Syria and Iraq.
From Spain to North Africa, Turkey's gates and hearts have been open to all oppressed, said Erdoğan, stressing: "There was and never will be room for discrimination in our minds and hearts.
"The real target of terror groups and their allies is our common homeland and the best way to disappoint them is to see our differences as our most important wealth," Erdoğan said.