By Cemal Asan
VAN, Turkey (AA) – Culture Minister Mehmet Nuri Ersoy joined a ceremony organized by Turkey’s Armenian Patriarchate at the historic Akdamar Church in eastern Van province.
Speaking after the service, Ersoy said ceremonies at the church had been suspended for the last three years due to security reasons.
“We have started the ceremonies because the security environment has been ensured again this year. So we are very happy. Our wish is that services at the Akdamar Church will continue without any interruption,” he said.
Turkey began a restoration project at the Akdamar Church, located in an island on Van Lake, in 2005.
The historic church re-opened in 2007 as a “monumental museum”.
On Sept. 19, 2010, the Akdamar Church hosted its first service after a 95-year break. The church opened its service every year for one day and the last service was conducted in 2015, which saw a gathering of thousands of local and international tourists in Van.
Archbishop Aram Ateşyan, General Vicar of the Armenian Patriarchate of Turkey, held the mass that lasted two hours.
Atesyan also thanked President Recep Tayyip Erdogan as well as culture minister and other officials.