GERMAN CHANCELLOR MEETS MUSLIM, CHRISTIAN, JEWISH LEADERS IN TURKEY

Anatolia news agency, Ankara,
8 Oct 06

Istanbul, 6.10.2006 -Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan
and German Chancellor Angela Merkel met representatives of the four
monotheist religions in Istanbul on Friday [6 October], giving messages
of peace against "disaster scenarios of the clash of civilizations".

"Such a gathering is the best and the most effective answer to
scenarios of the clash of civilizations," Erdogan told a press
conference after the meeting with Istanbul Mufti Mustafa Cagirici,
Armenian Patriarch Mesrob II, Chief Rabbi of Turkey Isak Haleva and
Greek Orthodox Patriarch Bartholomew.

Erdogan qualified the meeting as "very meaningful in such a critical
moment when the world needed peace more than ever".

"I believe that politicians and clergy all over the world as opinion
leaders should avoid remarks and attitudes that provoke an exclusionist
culture of violence and conflict," Erdogan said.

"In a place where Europe and Asia meet, we cry out to the world
for the universality of peace and the alliance of civilizations,"
the Premier added. Erdogan urged for global cooperation against what
he described as "trends that seriously threaten world peace and drag
them into an endless obscurity."

"Our joint initiative with Spanish Prime Minister Zapatero, the
Alliance of Civilizations, and the initiative 'Ernst Reuter' with
Germany are the best examples for that cooperation," Erdogan stated.

Speaking afterwards, the German chancellor expressed her gratitude
for the meeting which she described as "very useful."

"We are in accord that practicing violence in the name of religion
is unacceptable. I hope that this meeting will contribute to the
peaceful co-existence of religions," Merkel said.

After the press conference, Merkel departed from Istanbul's Ataturk
Airport for Germany.