President Erdogan Attends the Reopening Ceremony of the Iron Church

07.01.2018
President Erdogan Attends the Reopening Ceremony of the Iron Church

Speaking at the re-opening ceremony of the newly-restored Iron Church (St. Stephan Church), President Erdoğan said: “Istanbul has once again shown the entire world its feature of being a city where different religions and cultures co-exist in peace.”


President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan delivered a speech at the reopening ceremony of the newly-restored Iron Church (St. Stephan Church), located in the Balat district of Istanbul. Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım, Prime Minister Boyko Borisov of Bulgaria, Deputy Prime Minister Hakan Çavuşoğlu, Minister of Energy and Natural Resources Berat Albayrak, Minister for EU Affairs and Chief Negotiator Ömer Çelik, Patriarch of the Bulgarian Orthodox Church Neophyte, Orthodox Patriarch of Fener Bartholomew, Grand Mufti of Bulgaria Mustafa Aliş, Mayor of Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality Mevlüt Uysal also attended the ceremony.

“This opening ceremony, held during Bulgaria’s EU term presidency, is a rather significant message, given to the international community,” President Erdoğan said, and added: “Istanbul has once again shown the entire world its feature of being a city where different religions and cultures co-exist in peace.”

“IRON CHURCH CONTRIBUTES TO ISTANBUL’S BEAUTY AND RICHNESS”

“The Iron Church, built in 1898, is one of its kind in the world with its iron skeleton. It not only serves the Bulgarian community as a house of prayer but also contributes to Istanbul’s beauty and richness,” President Erdoğan said.

“Wherever they conquered throughout history, our ancestors first insured the freedom of faith and houses of prayers. They always protected people with the understanding that they were free to practice their faith,” the President underscored.

“Painful memories, experienced in certain periods in history, should not overshadow our much longer and deep-rooted experience of coexistence,” President Erdoğan underlined, and added: “That’s why we have an understanding of unity in plurality, which demonstrates our approach toward all faiths and thoughts. With this understanding, we have been restoring houses of prayers of our citizens following different faiths across our country.”

“WE WILL CONTINUE TO RESTORE HOUSES OF PRAYER”

Stating that 14 houses of prayer, including the Grand Synagogue in Edirne, Hagia Nicola Church in Gökçeada, the Syriac Catholic Church in İskenderun, the Armenian Protestant Church in Diyarbakır, the Nizip Fevkani Church in Gaziantep, the Taksiyarhis Church on Cunda Island, the Hagia Yorgi Church in Istanbul, have been restored recently, President Erdoğan said: “The Iron Church is the final example of our efforts. We will continue to restore houses of prayer such as synagogues, chapels and churches.”

Underlining that it is among the responsibilities of the state to ensure all can freely practice their religion, President Erdoğan said: “The fact that Patriarch of the Bulgarian Orthodox Church Neophyte, Orthodox Patriarch of Fener Bartholomew, Grand Mufti of Bulgaria Mustafa Aliş are both part of Mr. Borisov’s delegation points to the importance Bulgaria attaches to this co-existence.”

“TURKEY HAS CONTRIBUTED TO THE RESTORATION OF OVER 5 THOUSAND MONUMENTS”

Underlining Turkey’s know-how and experience in restoration efforts, President Erdoğan underscored that Turkey has contributed to the restoration of over 5 thousand monuments across a vast geography stretching from the Balkans to Middle East, South Asia, Central Asia and Eastern Europe.

“It is our duty to future generations to preserve these monuments. Numerous mosques, caravanserais, bridges, tombs have been built on the lands of Bulgaria during the Ottoman era. We know that historical waqf buildings and mosques in Bulgaria are in need of restoration. Just like we did in the example of the Iron Church, we can carry out together the efforts to preserve our shared cultural legacy,” President Erdoğan said.

At the end of his speech, President Erdoğan thanked all who contributed to the restoration of the Iron Church.

After the opening ribbon was cut, President Erdoğan, along with Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım, Prime Minister Boyko Borisov of Bulgaria, Patriarch of the Bulgarian Orthodox Church Neophyte, Grand Mufti of Bulgaria Mustafa Aliş visited the church.

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