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Pope's visit to Turkey will ease relations

Monday, January 12, 2015

Significance

Although Turks' response to the outrage in Paris on January 7 has been mixed, with some Islamist newspapers and their readers justifying it as revenge for insults to the Prophet, relations at the official level had already been eased by Pope Francis's visit on November 28-30. A major event like its predecessors, the visit raised questions of Turkey's underlying relationship with the Christian West, and compatibility with European attitudes and standards. Relations with the Vatican are important for keeping the Turkish accession process even partly alive.

Impacts

  • The coolness between Turks and Europe's Catholics under Pope Benedict XVI will no longer impede Turkey's European aims.
  • However, new life is unlikely to be breathed into the stagnating Turkish-EU accession negotiations in the near future.
  • The Orthodox patriarch's road-map for reunification with the Catholic Church is vague but could reshape the cultural geography of Europe.

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