Turkish Minister of EU Affairs and Chief Negotiator, Egemen Bagis on Sunday said that he could not forget fasting in hot summer months, eating the pre-dawn meal of suhur on the roof where he slept, and the joy of fast-breaking meals in the province of Siirt where he spent his childhood.
In an exclusive interview with the Anadolu Agency (AA), Egemen Bagis said that conversations during the holy month of Ramadan were important in fulfilling the needs of the disadvantaged individuals.
"I am grateful to the Anadolu Agency for giving me the opportunity to share my feelings and thoughts with the public opinion," Bagis stressed.
"When I hear the word Ramadan, I remember my childhood 30 years ago when I met with fasting for the first time," Bagis stated.
"During my childhood, my late father was the mayor of Siirt province and I was attending elementary school there. We were living with my grandparents in a two storey house. Ramadan was celebrated in July-August as in this year. We used to sleep on the roof of our house. It was great happiness to sleep by watching the stars in the sky, eating the pre-dawn meal of suhur on the roof, being patient the next day during immense heat, listening to the sounds of adhan and enjoying the fast-breaking meal in the evening," Bagis stated.
"Ramadan means 'ending fire'. I remember the first periods of Ramadan in my life in which humans helped each other to solve problems, to help the needy and understand the sensitivities and feelings of individuals," Bagis noted.
Two items never missing on table
Egemen Bagis said that they had fast-breaking meals with three siblings, grandmother, grandfather and uncles.
"Both fast-breaking and pre-dawn meals of suhur took place in a lively and crowded atmosphere. Our mother and grandmother used to wake up early to prepare the table for the suhur. I remember that there were two items never missing on our table due to hot weather. One of them was water and ayran (salted yoghurt drink) and the other was watermelon. Surely, I remember the special cuisine of Siirt as well," Bagis stressed.
"I try to practice what I have learned from my father"
I try to make sure that my family lives Ramadan as good as I did as a child, Bagis stated.
"As my late father was a politician, our Ramadans were always enjoyed with the society. I try to share the richness of Ramadan and try to practice what I have learned from my father. We continue our Ramadan traditions. On one hand, politics continue. And, on the other hand, it is a different feeling to experience Ramadan in Istanbul," Bagis indicated.
-"Ramadan in Istanbul is special"-
"Istanbul is a province where the sounds of adhan, bells, and hazan mix with each other," Bagis said.
"Different faiths, cultures, civilizations and sects add joy to fast-breaking meals here," Bagis stressed.
"They strengthen feelings of brotherhood every passing day," Bagis stated.
"Istanbul is a unique place to experience Ramadan. We will try to help the needy in Istanbul during Ramadan," Bagis said.
"I do hope to experience a Ramadan full of richness and tranquility," Bagis noted.
"A culture of Ramadan established in world"
"Ramadan is not important merely for Islam but it has become an important term for the world as well," Bagis underlined.
"The White House now hosts fast-breaking meals. There are dinners taking place in the Kremlin during Ramadan," Bagis noted.
"We can see 200,000 people praying in Moscow on the first day of the Ramadan Feast. China celebrates Ramadan in many ways. On July 26, I will get together with brothers and sisters in Brussels along with Turkey's TRT TV channel. Ramadan is becoming a period of tranquility and peace for the whole humanity. Turkey's message in foreign relations is 'peace'. Turkey wants brotherhood, friendship and tranquility. They will all get strengthened during Ramadan," Bagis indicated.
"We will host fast-breaking meal at Istanbul's Poorhouse"
"The real meaning of Ramadan is not only staying hungry for a while but helping others," Bagis said.
"Ramadan necessitates sharing. We have a family tradition in Ramadan. For the past nine years, my wife and I are hosting a fast-breaking meal at Istanbul's Poorhouse. We will host the meal again in 2012 towards the end of Ramadan. There are elderly individuals who have not been visited by relatives or friends for years at the Poorhouse. We try to spend time with the elderly who have worked for this country and are now lonely," Bagis stated.
"Everyone can make people smile"
"I can never forget the impromptu visits we made to various residences with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan," Bagis underlined.
"I witnesses the happiness of people when they met the Prime Minister Erdogan, shared meal with us, and we helped them find solutions to their problems," Bagis said.
"I believe that we need to do more during Ramadan to make people smile in their lives," Bagis said.
"You need not be a prime minister, minister or a politician to help people smile," Bagis noted.
"I think we can help people smile by sharing their meal, listening to their problems, and talking with them," Bagis stressed.
"I do hope that everyone will enjoy the richness that Ramadan brings. I pray for this," Bagis also said.