Representatives from Turkey's various religious groups came together at the Fifth Civil Society Dialogue Meeting held at The Marmara Hotel yesterday. Attending the meeting was EU Minister and Chief Negotiator Egemen Bağış, Archbishop Aram Ateshian, Chief Rabbi İshak Haleva, Assyrian Catholic Congregation leader Yusuf Sağ, Assyrian Orthodox Congregation leader Yusuf Çetin, Chaldean Catholic Church Foundation Chairman Yusuf Basmacıoğlu, Minority Community Foundations Representative Laki Vingas, Turkish Jewish Community Chairman Bensiyon Pinto, Armenian Catholic Congregation Pontiff Kevork Khazoumian and Istanbul Mufti Rahmi Yaran. During his opening speech, EU Minister Bağış stated, "Thank God, no one can break this unity anymore."
During his address, EU Minister and Chief Negotiator Egemen Bağış stated the following:
''February 14th is celebrated as Valentine's Day all over the world. We are using this very occasion and this platform to unite our love as a country, to call out to humanity from this harmonious global capital where synagogues, churches and mosques have existed together for 800 years, and are saying from Istanbul, this point where civilizations meet, that the road to peace passes through love and that love is the common ground for all religions. I owe you all my gratitude for this gathering of all of you who truly offer significant support to this nation's spirituality.
For hundreds of years now, our various religious communities, an indispensible part of this land, have contributed greatly to the peace and unity of this nation. For humanity, for peace, for Turkey, I want to say 'Thank You God' for all of those souls who pray for Turkey's unity and integrity.
Your prayers are in essence the call of that shared love. Your prayers are what have kept us together on this land for hundreds of years. It is your prayers that have exerted the most effort throughout history to ensure this climate of peace in the nation and I see that you also include our Prime Minister, who has shown the volition to bring Turkey's democracy and the freedom of our people to its furthermost point. I would love to especially emphasize how especially touched we are by this."