Syriacs in Istanbul will get new church, Turkish PM says

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ISTANBUL – Anadolu Agency
Prime Minister Davuto?lu hosts the religious leaders of the country. AA photo
Turkey’s Syriac community will build a new church in the Ye?ilkoy neighborhood of Bak?rkoy district in Istanbul, an area close to Atatürk Airport, prime ministry officials said Jan. 2.

The decision came during a meeting of Prime Minister Ahmet Davuto?lu with representatives of non-Muslim minority communities at the prime ministry’s office in Istanbul, known as the Dolmabahçe Palace.

The state will allocate an area for the construction of the church, the officials added.

The religious representatives and the prime minister discussed these communities’ issues during the meeting, where Davuto?lu emphasized unity during his speech.
He said that when talking about religious communities, they were evaluated as if they were affiliated to another country. “All [representatives] are equal and real citizens of the Republic of Turkey,” he said.

Davuto?lu also invited the religious leaders for a New Year’s meal at the Prime Ministry’s office.

Fener Greek Patriarch Bartholomew; Deputy Armenian Patriarch Archbishop Aram Ate?yan; Chief Rabbi ?shak Haleva; Istanbul Syriac Orthodox Church Metropolitan Yusuf Çetin; Turkish Ambassador to the Vatican Mehmet Paçac?; Monsignor Yusuf Sa?, patriarchal vicar of Turkey for Syrians; and Levon Zekiyan of the Apostolic Administrator of the Armenian Archieparchy of Istanbul, all participated in the lunch at the prime ministerial office in Dolmabahçe Palace.