Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan hailed the efforts exerted by Maronite Patriarch Beshara al-Rahi to Turkey to maintain stability in Lebanon, stressing that Turkey hasn’t witnessed a visit like this since the Ottoman empire.
Erdogan stressed on the importance of the visit of al-Rahi, saying “it comes at a time everyone needs to go back to dialogue and reconciliation.”
“This historical visit helps in reactivating the dialogue and communication between the religions and the people,” the Turkish PM said.
For his part, al-Rahi thanked the Turkish government for the official invitation to visit Turkey.
He noted that Turkey “participated in raising the slogan of dialogue between religions.”
Al-Rahi said that he is looking forward for more cooperation concerning the convergence of civilizations and religions.
"We welcome calls for the separation of religion from the state," he said.
Al-Rahi later said during a press conference at the end of his visit that the Turkish authorities are keen to safeguard the Christians in the region.
“We bless the peoples’ will in choosing any authority they want… We want authorities to be able to spread democracy, public freedom and maintain the human dignity,” he noted.
Asked about “Friends of Syria” conference that will be held in Istanbul on Sunday, he said: “We bless all efforts seeking to end violence, war and reaching a peaceful solution that achieves the people’s expectations.”
“We want the Syrian authorities to establish a regime that respects democracy, diversity, and the needs of the people,” al-Rahi stated.
The patriarch headed to Turkey on an official visit.
He held meetings with high-ranking Turkish officials, among them FM Ahmet Davutoglu.
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