Patriarch expresses gratitude to Turkey

Patriarch expresses gratitude to Turkey

ISTANBUL - Hürriyet Daily News
Patriarch expresses gratitude to Turkey

Maronite patriarch Boutros al-Rai (L) held a press meeting in Istanbul. AFP photo

Lebanon-based Maronite Patriarch Bechara Boutros al-Rai has expressed gratitude to Turkey for its efforts to increase dialogue between Islam and Christianity.

“We would like to thank Turkey for its efforts to keep stability in the region,” al-Rai said March 31 in a press conference in Istanbul.

The patriarch said he had the opportunity to meet and establish closer relations with the leaders of other churches in Turkey during his recent visit to the country.

“We have seen closely Turkey’s efforts to solve the problems in Turkey. We also communicated our desire that the Christian community in the region keep their normal lives in peace. We are behind any effort that will solve Syria’s problems in peace,” he added.

Before his visit in Istanbul, the patriarch visited Ankara and paid visits to Turkish President Abdullah Gül, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and Foreign Minister Ahmet Davuoğlu.

Turkey desires progress in the atmosphere of peace and tolerance between Christians and Muslims in the Middle East, Davutoğlu told al-Rai on March 30.

Al-Rai, the first Lebanon-based Maronite patriarch to visit Turkey since 1876, said they felt at home in Turkey, a Foreign Ministry official said.

The minister said there was “tolerance in Turkey, where all religious communities live in peace.” The same should be applied in the Middle East, he said, according to the official.

Turkey has worked to prevent Christians from suffering during the developments of the Arab Spring, Davutoğlu said. The Syrian issue was also among the topics of discussion, according to sources.

Turkey, religion, minority