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Photograph: Freeimages.com/Lukasz Brzozowski

A ceremony was held on Saturday in Gunja, a municipality in the eastern Vukovar County hit by floods in May 2014, to mark the completion of reconstruction work on the local mosque, the oldest such building in the country, and on the offices of the local Islamic community.

The head of the Islamic community in Croatia, Aziz Hasanovic, expressed gratitude to all those involved in the HRK 1.5 million reconstruction project, notably the Croatian government and its ministries.

"Here in these offices, a soup kitchen was opened at the time when work was under way to remove the consequences of the floods and more than 2,750 meals were distributed here every day. It was our immediate response to the disaster that had hit this place and it showed Croatia's true colours. Homes opened up to accept the flood victims and assistance arrived from everywhere without regard for the victims' ethnicity," Hasanovic said, calling for continuing to nurture the kind of unity as shown in Gunja then.

He also thanked the Turkish government, the Croatian army, the Croatian Red Cross, Vukovar County and Gunja municipal authorities for their help.

Attending the event was also the chief imam in Gunja, Idriz Besic, the apostolic nuncio in Croatia, Msgr. Alessandro D'Errico, as well as the director of the Turkish International Cooperation and Coordination Agency (TIKA) for Bosnia and Herzegovina, Huseyin Sanli, who said that last year the agency participated in the renovation of a Serb Orthodox church in Sarajevo and was currently involved in a project to renovate the Mostar cathedral.

TIKA donated to the residents of Gunja 100 head of cattle for 50 families and 50 greenhouses to help restore cattle and vegetable farming.

Sanli said that the Turkish agency's total aid to Gunja was worth around EUR 600,000. 

We help all people and try to contribute to co-existence in the region, Sanli said at the ceremony that was also attended by the Turkish Ambassador to Croatia, Ahmet Tuta, and retired Djakovo-Osijek Archbishop Marin Srakic.

Gunja municipal head Hrvoje Lucic expressed gratitude for the donation, noting that reconstruction efforts in Gunja were nearing completion and would be finished by Christmas. 

The mosque in Gunja is the first and oldest Muslim place of worship in Croatia. It was built and inaugurated in 1969. Last year's floods severely damaged the building's interior.

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