Turkish deputy PM calls on exiled minorities to return to Turkey

Photo: Turkish deputy PM calls on exiled minorities to return to Turkey
 / Turkey
A Turkish deputy prime minister has called on minorities who left Turkey in the past due to mistreatment to return to the country Today`s Zaman reproted.

Speaking at a conference organized by the Institute of International and Intercultural Dialogue in the German Bundestag on Tuesday, Bulent Arıncrecalled his government's record on improving the lives of minorities in Turkey by expanding their rights. Arınc added that they are putting great effort into making peace prevail by burying negative events in the past. "Turkey wants to see the advent of lasting peace both in the country, the region and the world and it seeks and supports people's right to freely exercise their religion," Arınc stressed.

Arınc said peace and brotherhood across the world could only be achieved through maintaining dialogue, which he said does not mean the domination of one religion or culture over others but mutual understanding and acceptance.

The deputy prime minister rejected claims that Islam is not compatible with democracy and said Islam, as with other faiths, protects human rights, justice and peace.

Offering examples, Arınc said that Turkey has no problem with Christians, Buddhists or Hindus and that Turks only want peace and brotherhood with Jews. He added that inter-state problems in the modern world create a false image that these societies are also at odds, which he said is not the case for Turkey.

Arınc recalled that the Turkish government recently decided to return 165 properties belonging to minorities seized in the past and that Ankara didn't do this with any kind of expectation but to make the minorities feel they are a part of Turkey.

He said authorities have completed the renovation of five churches in the country while the renovation of two synagogues and four more churches continues.

"I want people with different faiths to live in peace in my country and I even want those who left Turkey due to mistakes [by authorities] to return to Turkey," Arınc said, adding that the Turkish government is doing its best to solve all kinds of problems faced by religious minorities. The Turkish official described different cultural, religious and ethnic minorities as Turkey's "richness."

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