ISTANBUL (AP/Andadolu)–Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan officially opened an Armenian museum in Istanbul on Sunday–saying he was committed to protecting the rights of minority Armenia’s.
Turkey–which recognizes Armenia’s as an official minority–is under pressure to improve rights for minorities as part of its efforts to join the European Union. Turkey hopes that EU leaders will agree to open membership talks at a Dec. 17 summit.
Erdogan joined Mesrob II–the Armenian Patriarch of Istanbul–and other leaders of Turkey’s Armenian Christian minority of 65,000 for the opening of the museum at the Sourp Pergich Armenian Hospital in Bolis.
"Armenian citizens are an indispensable part of [Turkey]. Every artifact in this museum shows a past lived together,” Erdogan said. "We are now protecting each other’s rights–aware of our citizenship–and it will be like this forever.”
Housed in a 172 year-old Armenian hospital–the museum includes religious artifacts–antique medical equipment and an Ottoman decree that established the hospital in 1832.