Istanbul: Minister ‘Wants’ To Attend Masses


Sept 13 2012

Turkish Culture Minister Ertugrul Gunay 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.

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

“We not only reopened Sumela [in Trabzon] and Surp Hac [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,” Gunay said.

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

Gunay 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 Erdogan 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,” Gunay 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,” Gunay said.


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