Turkish mosque in Albania is Erdoğan’s “way in” to Balkans – Kathimerini

Turkey’s construction of the largest mosque in the Balkans in Tirana, the capital of Albania, is part of an ongoing project to “(use) religion as a way in” to the region, journalist Tom Ellis has written for Greek daily Kathimerini’s English language site.

The Great Mosque of Tirana, also known as the Namazgah Mosque, will have the capacity to host up to 5,000 worshippers at a time, and will include a library, conference hall and cultural centre.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan called it a “unique symbol of brotherhood between our nations” during the groundbreaking ceremony in 2015. A part of this mission will be Turkish language classes held at the mosque, which is expected to be completed by the end of this year.

Turkey has undertaken similar projects in neighbouring Kosovo, including the construction of 20 mosques in recent years.

“These initiatives are not merely a sign of Erdogan’s religious sensibilities,” Ellis wrote. “They are at the core of an ambitious, long-term plan for promoting Turkey’s role as the champion and protector of all the Muslims in the Balkans, possibly even of all of ‘our brothers’ in the rest of Europe as well.”

The writer added that Turkey’s endeavours had also included the construction of one of Europe’s largest mosques in Cologne, Germany. Erdoğan opened the mosque in September last year.