Turkish president extends Christmas greetings
In a message released by the presidential office, Erdoğan said: "I congratulate our Christian citizens on the occasion of the Christmas.
"Turkey’s culture of tolerance has enabled a wide range of beliefs and traditions to live together in peace in its region.The lands of Anatolia have always served as a safe harbor for all who escape from conflict, persecution, war and oppression."
Erdoğan went on to say that Turkey had always viewed diversity as a "valuable asset".
"We, as the adherents of an ancient tradition that is based on respect for thoughts, beliefs and basic human rights, regard the presence in our geography of different religions and cultures as a valuable asset today as well.
"This understanding, which constitutes the basis of our nation’s peace, security, unity and solidarity, is the greatest power we have that will enable our peaceful co-existence in the future, too," he said.
"I wish that the Christmas, celebrated by our Christian citizens from different denominations, traditions and churches in line with their beliefs, will lead to the strengthening of the climate of solidarity in our country. I wish our Christian citizens and the whole Christian world a Merry Christmas.”
For Christians, Christmas marks the birthday of Jesus Christ.
One of Christianity’s most culturally significant celebrations, Christmas Eve is observed by most non-Orthodox Christians on Dec. 24 every year.