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2nd German-Turkish experts' discussion on the state and religion in Germany and Turkey

05.05.2008 - Press release

The Federal Ministry of the Interior and the Federal Foreign Office will today resume the expert-level dialogue with Turkey on the question of religion and the state. Günter Gloser, Minister of State for Europe, and Peter Altmaier, Parliamentary State Secretary at the Federal Ministry of the Interior, will welcome the 40 Turkish and German administrative, academic and religious experts to the talks in Berlin, which will continue until tomorrow, 6 May.

The experts' meeting in Istanbul last year focused on the terms "Religionsgemeinschaft" (religious community) and "Körperschaft des öffentlichen Rechts" (bodies corporate under public law), both of which are key German constitutional law concepts relating to religion. The present meeting will examine two further key principles of German constitutional law – the right of self-determination of religious communities, and the state's religious and ideological neutrality.

The experts' discussion serves to foster continuity in relations with policy-makers in Turkey and complements the German Islam Conference, a domestic German project. It is in particular intended to inform the experts about the consultations held by the German Islam Conference and to promote the Conference's aims. It is also designed to familiarize the participants from Turkey with the special requirements of German constitutional law as regards religion. The meeting will also provide an opportunity for an exchange of information on the relationship between the state and religion in Turkey, and will thereby shed light on the organization and substance of Islam in Germany, which is predominantly Turkish in its nature.

Participants from Turkey include representatives from the State Ministry for Turkish citizens living abroad, the Turkish Foreign Ministry, the Presidium for Religious Affairs, the deans of various theological faculties and other scholars. Participants from Germany include representatives of the Federal Ministry of the Interior and the Federal Foreign Office, as well as academics and representatives of Islamic associations.

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