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Cablegate: Vatican: Encouragement, but No Change On Turkey/Eu Policy

VZCZCXRO4225
PP RUEHDBU RUEHFL RUEHKW RUEHLA RUEHSR
DE RUEHROV #0249/01 3351724
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 011724Z DEC 06
FM AMEMBASSY VATICAN
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 0573
INFO RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE
RUEHAK/AMEMBASSY ANKARA PRIORITY 0010
RUEHIT/AMCONSUL ISTANBUL PRIORITY 0005
RUEHROV/AMEMBASSY VATICAN 0601

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 VATICAN 000249

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

DEPT FOR EUR/WE LARREA

E.O. 12958: DECL: 12/1/2016
TAGS: KIRF PHUM SOCI TU VT
SUBJECT: VATICAN: ENCOURAGEMENT, BUT NO CHANGE ON TURKEY/EU POLICY

REF: A) ANKARA 6529; B) 04 VATICAN 1164; C) 04 VATICAN 3196

VATICAN 00000249 001.2 OF 002


CLASSIFIED BY: Peter Martin, Pol/Econ Chief, Vatican, State.
REASON: 1.4 (b), (d)
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Summary

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1. (C) Despite media reports to the contrary, the Vatican
remains officially neutral on the subject of Turkey's EU bid.
It maintains its position that it sees "no obstacle" to Turkey's
entry if the GoT fulfills the Copenhagen criteria on religious
freedom. Holy See officials were quick to speak out and clarify
the Holy See's stance following media reports on Turkish PM
Erdogan's claim of new support from Pope Benedict. Referring to
the Copenhagen criteria, Cardinal Secretary of State Bertone did
make a statement of "hope" that Turkey would be able to fulfill
the conditions put before it regarding its EU bid. While this
should not be interpreted as an endorsement of Turkey's entering
the Union, it was certainly encouragement for the GoT to enact
needed reforms and continue to work towards integration. Top
officials including Deputy Foreign Minister equivalent Pietro
Parolin have spoken frankly in private, confirming that the
pope's statements in Turkey did not represent a shift in the
Holy See's stance. Vatican officials here are waiting for the
return of the delegation Friday to hear the back story from
Turkey. End Summary.


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Position Unchanged

------------------

2. (C) Media have run with Turkish PM Erdogan's claim that
Pope Benedict told him he now supported Turkey's bid to join the
EU. In fact, according to various high-level Vatican officials,
the Holy See's position has not changed; the Vatican remains
officially neutral on the subject, and maintains that it sees
"no obstacle" to Turkey's entry if the GoT fulfills the criteria
established by the December 2002 Copenhagen Summit (ref b).

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Officials Speak Out

-------------------

3. (SBU) Holy See officials were quick to speak out following
reports on Erdogan's statement. Press office director Federico
Lombardi issued a statement emphasizing that the Holy See had
neither the power nor the competency to intervene on the precise
point of Turkey's entry in the European Union. Lombardi did
note that the pope had expressed his appreciation for the
Alliance of Civilizations initiative promoted by PM Erdogan, and
noted the Vatican's encouragement of dialogue on this and
related issues. New Holy See FM equivalent Archbishop Dominique
Mamberti chimed in that the Holy See had not expressed an
official position on the issue of Turkey's entry. He also
referred to the need for Turkey to live up to the Copenhagen
criteria, a sentiment echoed by his boss, Holy See Secretary of
State Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, who said he hoped Turkey "could
fulfill the conditions put before it to join the European
Union." [Note: Bertone's statement should not be interpreted as
an endorsement of Turkey's entering the Union, but was certainly
encouragement for Turkey to enact needed reforms. It was
significant as a rare public voicing of the Vatican's long-held
position on the issue.]

4. (C) Privately, top Vatican officials including Deputy FM
Pietro Parolin have confirmed that the pope's statements in
Turkey did not represent a shift in the Holy See stance on
Turkey's EU bid. "We all hope that Turkey will take the steps
on religious freedom and human rights that are necessary to
enter," a foreign ministry official told us. The media will
"always say what they want," but the Vatican position has not
changed, he said. Confidentially, he was skeptical about
Turkey's commitment to religious freedom, expressing doubts, for
example, about the GoT's new Law on Foundations (ref a). He did
not elaborate.

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Comment

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VATICAN 00000249 002.2 OF 002


5. (C) In the wake of his Regensburg speech and in an effort
to clarify or soften his widely-reported 2004 remarks expressing
doubts about Turkey's place in the EU (please see ref c),
Benedict likely said something relatively positive about
European integration that Erdogan (for whatever reason)
interpreted more broadly. The pope was certainly trying to put
a positive face on his Turkey trip whenever possible, and his
shift in tone from 2004 is noteworthy. The Vatican will
maintain its neutrality on the EU question, but its
encouragement of dialogue and further reforms are useful in the
context of USG goals on the issue.
SANDROLINI

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