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Talking to Turkey

Rabiya Parekh | 15:22 UK time, Tuesday, 21 November 2006

Destination Istanbul
Right now it feels like we've barely landed in London back from a WHYS trip before we start planning the next one, but you wont find me complaing.

Having just returned from a brilliant tour of the US, and Richard and Ros's impromptu trip to Amsterdam on Monday, we've been looking ahead to our forthcoming trip to Turkey. And as always, we want your help.

There are a couple of reasons we wanted to go to Turkey.

Pope Benedict XVIWill Turkey welcome the Pope?

First off Pope Benedict XVI will make his first trip as Pontiff to Turkey next week, it will also be his first visit to a predominantly Muslim country.

The trip, in which he will visit Ankara, Izmir, Istanbul and ancient Ephesus, has been overshadowed by a row over remarks he made about Islam.

There was a huge outcry in the Muslim world when the Pope quoted a 14th Century Christian emperor who said the Prophet Mohammed had brought only "evil and inhuman" things.

But will he be welcomed in Turkey? I've been having a look at comments that have been coming in to the BBC News website about his visit, and there seems to some very mixed views.

Mert Ozgen who lives in Istanbul says:

The Pope's visit will be no different from a visit to a Christian country. I have no problem with his statements and there isn't so much impact here about his trip. He can use this visit to build bridges between the West and the Middle East.

But Ekrem, also in Istanbul says:

I don’t want to see him in Turkey because he insulted Muslims and our Prophet (PBUH). I think he just wanted to create a problem between Muslims and Christians, he shouldn’t come here.

And Metin, who describes himself as agnostic says:

I think he should go ahead with the visit, especially after the comments he made. It is better for us if he does come here.

But what do you think? We want to talk to people in Istanbul and get an idea of how they view his visit. He was after all, invited by the Turkish Government, should he still go? What kind of a reception will he get from Muslims as well as Christians? When the Pope said his remarks had been "misunderstood" was that enough to calm the tensions?

Do you want Tukrey to join the EU?To EU or not to EU

The other big talking point in Turkey at the moment seems to be whether or not it should join the European Union.

In October 2005, Turkey finally began talks on joining the EU, but there is still a long way to go.

The European Commission says Turkey still has a lot to do if it is to be accepted. It must, for example, open its ports and airports to traffic from EU member Cyprus. Turkey says it will not do this until the EU takes steps to end the Turkish Cypriot community's economic isolation.

Turkey's Freedom of Speech laws have also been called in to question, and the Commission says that the country must make efforts to bring its laws into line with European standards, a process it says has slowed down somewhat.

But Correspondents say Turks are tiring of the constant pressure from Brussels and are increasingly convinced that the EU does not see the country as a future member.

Some polls show support for EU membership plummeting as low as 30%. If you're in Tukrey we'd love for you to come along to the programme and let us know what you think. Do you want to join the EU?
The speech sparked several days of protests in Muslim countries and calls for an unequivocal apology. In response the Pope said that the remarks had been "misunderstood" and that he regretted the reaction they had caused.


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