By Kaan Bozdogan
ISTANBUL (AA) - The Istanbul governor's office organized on Friday a New Year Fest at the Ciragan Palace in Besiktas, on the waterfront in Turkey's commercial capital, for Christians from different denominations, conventions and churches.
Istanbul Governor Ali Yerlikaya wished 2020 would bring goodness and grace to all mankind.
The presidential classical Turkish music choir also gave a concert at the event.
He said different cultures and beliefs have lived together in peace in Istanbul for centuries, and emphasized that the city is a center of civilization far from making others feeling left out or marginalized.
Yerlikaya congratulated Sahak Mashalian, who was recently elected the 85th Armenian Patriarchate of Istanbul and said the city was the capital of three empires that hosted communities from different beliefs and cultures during past centuries.
"With the conquest in 1453, Fatih Sultan Mehmet guaranteed the language, religion, life and property security of the non-Muslims in Istanbul, and ensured their protection," he said, adding that the modern Turkish Republic was also founded based on those principles.
Istanbul, as it was in the past, will be the "cradle of civilizations and beliefs" in the future as well, and with the experience and power received from Anatolia will continue to contribute to peace and stability in the world, and will remain the center of assurance for all cultures and beliefs, he said.
Yerlikaya underlined Istanbul is also a refuge for the oppressed and said that it is a pride for all Turks to have a homeland where all citizens live in peace and security, regardless of religion, ethnic origin, beliefs and religious sects.
"This geography has long been an embracing, hosting and safe harbor for all those who escaped from conflict, war and oppression. We, who oppose all forms of discrimination and racism, see the existence of different religions and cultures as a wealth," he said.
The governor wished the New Year will bring peace and happiness to all Christian compatriots and the Christian world.