Wien/Ankara, 26. September 2011 Press release

Turkish religious representatives for Austria seen off in Ankara

Ankara, 22 September 2011 – The Austrian Embassy in Ankara gave a reception on September 20th to say farewell to nine religious representatives of “Diyanet”, the Turkish religious affairs authority, on the eve of their departure for Austria where they will join the ATIB Association in the coming weeks.

The Austrian Ambassador drew attention in her address to the many years of dialogue tradition with Islam that exist in Austria, including statutory recognition of Islam since 1912. An especially intensive and good relationship has been developed with religious representatives from Turkey due to the visit paid by Cardinal Christoph Schönborn to Istanbul and Ankara in 2008, and also to the "Local culture training courses for Turkish religious representatives" that have been offered since 2008.

The “Local culture training” that is organised once a year in Vienna on the initiative of the Federal Ministry provides religious representatives with instruction through lectures and discussions in the history and the political, social and cultural background to Austria. In these courses, issues such as democracy, the rule of law, religious pluralism and freedom of conscience, as also questions of integration and participation are considered.

The Austrian Ambassador underlined the necessity for dialogue and said the religious representatives should have meetings extending beyond their own Muslim community, for which an adequate knowledge of German is an essential requirement. The Turkish religious representatives will be active in virtually all the Austrian federal provinces and they are themselves drawn from many different regions in Turkey.

The Diyanet head of department for foreign affairs, Dr. Fevzi Hamurcu, expressed thanks for the Austrian commitment and drew attention to the motivation and the efforts made by the religious representatives to learn German and to familiarise themselves with the culture and the people of Austria. The “Local culture training” makes an important contribution to this process and there is great interest focussed on additional preparation work for it in Turkey.

For further inquiries please contact:
Austrian Embassy, Ankara
P.K. 131, TR-06680 Ankara
Phone: +90/312 405-5190
Fax: +90/312 418-9454
E-mail: ankara-ob(at)bmeia.gv.at