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.