Minister ‘wants’ to attend masses

Minister ‘wants’ to attend masses

VAN - Hürriyet Daily News
Minister ‘wants’ to attend masses

Turkish Culture Minister Ertuğrul Günay attends a groundbreaking ceremony at the Urartu Museum in Van. DHA Photo

Turkish Culture Minister Ertuğrul Günay has said that in the coming years he would like to attend masses in those long-dormant churches that have been reopened during his term in office.

Günay attended a groundbreaking ceremony at the Urartu Museum, which is to be opened in the eastern province of Van. Speaking to the Hürriyet Daily News, Günay commented on his 10 years in office.

“We not only reopened Sümela [in Trabzon] and Surp Haç [in Van], but also opened the Church of St. Nicholas located in Demre [in Antalya] for religious services. From Alevis to Greeks and from Armenians to Sunnis, we wanted to revive mutual awareness and the will to live together. This is [the Justice and Development Party] AKP’s main goal. It is true that I did not attend [those services which have already taken place in the reopened churches] but I would like to attend future ones,” Günay said.

With Günay’s approval, historic Sümela Monastery, located in the Black Sea province of Trabzon, was reopened in 2010. After that, Surp Haç (Holy Cross) Church, located in the eastern province of Van, was opened for religious services once a year just after its restoration was completed.

Günay also commented on the sculpture “Monument to Humanity,” which was erected in the eastern province of Kars and dedicated to Turkish-Armenian friendship, and was removed after Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan called it “freakish” and demanded its removal.

“They [the AKP] have supported me in all my work, but of course there have been some issues. The humanity monument was one of the biggest of these. Politics and art should not have conflicted with each other in that way; I did not want a work of art to be called ‘freakish,’ but the press forced the prime minister to use this word,” Günay said, when asked whether he had encountered difficulties during his term in office.

“It is true that I have leftist tendencies, but the AKP includes people with different views. It was a newly founded party then, and it turned a new page for me,” Günay said.