Turkish Ambassador to Macedonia Tulin Erkal Kara said that the building of a minaret in downtown Ohrid was a dream come true for President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who will himself come to visit the Ali Pasha mosque.
The construction caused protests in Ohrid, with the town’s Christians worried that it will dominate the old bazaar and will reduce the attractiveness as the city as a site of Christian pilgrimage.
Turkey funded what was billed as reconstruction of the mosque, whose minaret was torn down in 1912, with the Turkish defeat at the hands of the Balkan Christian countries. Zaev’s Government acknowledged that the minaret is being built illegally, without a permit from the Ohrid city hall, but dared not stop the work, as it was desperate for votes from Albanian Muslims in the presidential elections and the mayoral race in Ohrid. Now the Ambassador said that Erdogan will arrive for the opening of the minaret, along with leading Macedonian politicians.
There were some minor objections, but I believe that the reconstructed minaret is faithful to the original. I heard that there was some opposition in the public, but we tried to stick to the project as it was outlined in the protocol we signed, said Ambassador Kara.