The president of Turkey on Thursday released a Christmas message emphasizing tolerance and diversity.

“Today and in the future, we will see our differences as the richness and build our future to be more prosperous with mutual respect,” said Recep Tayyip Erdogan in the statement released by Turkey’s Communications Directorate.

Wishing a Merry Christmas to all those celebrating the holiday in Turkey and across the world, Erdogan stressed that Turkey has been a peaceful refuge for different cultures and traditions for centuries.

This reinforces the “unity and solidarity” among the county’s people, who view such cultural differences as “unparalleled wealth, precious pieces of our civilizational mosaic.”

One of the most significant celebrations in Christian culture, Christmas Eve is observed by most non-Orthodox Christians on Dec. 24 every year.

*Writing by Ahmet Gencturk

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