21. Pope Benedict XVI is in Turkey

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21. Pope Benedict XVI is in Turkey
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Tamir Shukri
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During his visit to Turkey, which witnessed tension, the Roman Catholic Pope Benedict XVI praised Turkey’s recent

policy changes toward minorities, saying that this was enough to allow Turkey’s entrance in the EU.

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Due to the

offensive statements of the Roman Catholic Pope Benedict XVI against Islam and his previous attitude (before he

became the pope) toward Turkey, which he had said should not join the EU because it had a Muslim majority, his

visit to Turkey saw some tensions.
However, he behaved in a more diplomatic manner during the visit, telling

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan that the Vatican welcomed Turkey to the EU. The pope’s spokesperson

said that the Vatican encouraged Turkey’s joining the EU as a step toward diminishing the anger of Islamic

countries caused by the pope’s lecture on Islam.
During the visit the pope repeatedly stressed the

importance of ensuring the freedom of worship for Christian minorities in Islamic countries, just as Muslim

minorities enjoy religious freedom in the West. He praised Turkish steps to reform its policies toward minorities,

which he considered sufficient measures to allow Turkey’s acceptance in the EU.