Merkel enjoys tour of historical sites in Istanbul
Besides her official contacts, German Chancellor Angela Merkel's two-day Turkey visit also included a tour of historical sites in Istanbul and visits to a German high school and church. Accompanied by Culture and Tourism Minister Ertugrul Gunay, Chief Negotiator for European Union Talks Egemen Bagis, and German State Minister for Migration, Refugees and Integration Maria Boehmer, Merkel visited the Hagia Sophia museum and Sultanahmet (Blue) Mosque in Istanbul. During her visit to Hagia Sophia, Merkel spoke with the museum director, and said she was impressed by the grandeur of the former church and mosque. During her visit to the Blue Mosque, the German chancellor spoke with the mufti of Istanbul, Professor Mustafa Cagrici, and expressed great admiration for the site's "excellence." Reporters from many international media outlets covered these visits. Merkel also visited the German Protestant Church and the German High School in the Beyoglu district, where she took part in a panel with Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu. Before concluding her two-day visit, she also attended a concert with Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan at the German Consulate in Istanbul marking the selection of both Istanbul and Essen, Germany as 2010 European Capitals of Culture. "Like Essen, Istanbul deserves to be a European Capital of Culture," she said before the concert. "I want to bring greetings from Essen to express the Turkish-German friendship through music. I hope you have a beautiful day which affirms the close relations between the Turkish and German peoples." Also speaking before the concert, Erdogan said the concert of Turkish and German performers would make the day more meaningful and underline the friendship between the East and the West. In the concert, soprano Anke Krabbe, bass-baritone Gunes Gurle, reed flutist Cemal Oksuz and pianist Batughan Uzgoren performed works by Turkish and German composers. Also present at the concert were Gunay, Bagis, Istanbul Governor Muammer Guler, Istanbul Greater Municipality Mayor Kadir Topbas, Greek Orthodox Patriarch Bartholomeos and Armenian Orthodox Archbishop Aram Atesyan.