Turks tire of yo-yo attitude of Prime Minister

world | Nov 26, 2006 | By Asia News

Turks are increasingly dismayed by Prime Minister Tayyip Erdoganís yo-yo attitude towards the Popeís visit. After repeatedly saying he was not going to meet Benedict XVI during the latterís trip to Turkey because of his commitment to go to Estonia for a NATO meeting, a government spokesman announced November 25th that Turkish authorities were working with the Vatican to ensure that the Prime Minister and the Pope would meet at an airport in the capital on November 28 before the start of the NATO summit in Riga.

In Turkey, where Islamo-nationalists continue to protest against the visit, the press has reported that law enforcement authorities have pledged maximum security during the Popeís stay in Turkey, safer than in the Vatican according to the police.

A-level, i.e. maximum, security arrangements will be in place, similar to those made during the visit by US President Bush and British Prime Minister Blair.

In the air two F-16 fighters will escort the plane carrying the pope. Overland travel will be done with three bullet-proof cars, one of which will carry the pope, 50 special agents and two helicopters monitoring every movement from the air.

In Ephesus security will be handled by 1,500 gendarmes and 275 policemen; in Istanbul the police will deploy 4,500 men.

Erdoganís indecision reflects Turkeyís wavering identity, tentative and Janus-faced, pulled in different directions by opposite forces.

His decision a month ago to go to the NATO summit on November 28 and 29, making a meeting with Benedict XVI all but impossible, made a stir. Suggestions were made that a meeting might be organised for the 30 in Istanbul but no official decision was made making the tÍte-ŗ-tÍte highly unlikely.

Yesterday the Turkish press reported that no member of the government would meet with the Pope whether in Ankara or Istanbul, ostensibly for commitments abroad, except for Turkish President Ahmet Necdet Sezer.

One paper, Aksam,



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