Culture minister offers an apology to Alevis .hurriyet2008-detailbox-newslink { font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size:13px; font-weight:bold; text-decoration:none; color:#000000;} .hurriyet2008-detailbox-newslink:hover { font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size:13px; font-weight:bold; text-decoration:underline; color:#990000;} ANKARA - As Turkey undertakes new attempts to fix relations with its citizens of different cultural origins, Culture Minister Ertuğrul Günay apologized to Alevis, a liberal sect of Islam, "in the name of the state" for the discrimination and suffering of the past, during the inauguration ceremony of Turkey’s first Alevi Institute in the nation’s capital Ankara late Tuesday.

"History does not forgive those who are late but it is never too late to make ammends," the minister said.

"However, our citizens of Alevi and Bektashi tradition have been so committed to the values of this land and the Republic of Turkey that these provocations were not successful. Thus, I am grateful and offer my apology in the name of the state due to all the mistakes made in the past," he reiterated.

Pointing to the 1980 coup, when all the richness of beliefs, thoughts and origins were disregarded, Günay said Turkey was trying to make peace with itself.

After Günay ended his speech, some Alevis who called themselves "martyr families" protested and asked when the Madımak Hotel, where thirty-seven Alevi intellectuals were killed, will be turned into a museum. They also claimed that the case was time-barred. "I did not mention this issue so as not to prolong my speech. As I said before, this problem will be solved before July," Günay claimed, commanding his bodyguards not to prevent the protesters. Günay also consoled Yeter Sivri, who lost her two daughters during the Madımak Massacre.

Meanwhile, head of the institute, Dr. Cengiz Güleç, stated that the opening day was "the beginning of a new history" for themselves. The Alevism Research, Documentation and Implementation Institute was opened within the Hajji Bektash Wali Anatolian Culture Foundation. Some embassy representatives and heads of Alevi associations attended the ceremony.