Since the 1959 vis­it of then Turk­ish Pres­i­dent Celal Bayar, this was the first time a Turk­ish Pres­i­dent met again with the Pope on his home ground. In 1998, Turgut Özal had paid a vis­it as Prime Minister.

We there­fore take this oppor­tu­ni­ty to draw a styl­is­tic com­par­i­son between the “before” and the “after”, it being well known that run­ning into His Holi­ness can trig­ger the action of grace…

What was this crusade about?

(Sub­ti­tled in Eng­lish and in French, choose the lan­guage by click­ing on the sub­ti­tle and para­me­ters icons.)

The French trans­la­tion we have pro­vid­ed was done in the lan­guage Erdoğan would use. In most cas­es, the trans­la­tions are done in high lan­guage, as if the Pres­i­dent was a man of let­ters. You should know that Erdo­gan uses the famil­iar “tu” and “toi” with the World and with Europe, as if speak­ing to his ser­vants and flunkies, and he did­n’t hes­i­tate, for instance, upon return­ing from France, to make fun of Macron, whom he said he had “fold­ed”.


The Turk­ish press allied to the Pres­i­dent makes ample com­ment of the vis­it and seeks ways to increase the Reis’ stature, of course. We are not told if, as was for­mer­ly the cus­tom, Erdoğan start­ed off by kiss­ing the Pope’s mule…Mule? What did you think? The mule is noth­ing but the white slip­per on the foot of His Holiness…

Erdoğan came late and the meet­ing start­ed with a 20 minute delay. (Putin, 50 min­utes and Queen Eliz­a­beth 20 min­utes, apart from that, it is rare for vis­i­tors to for­get the sched­ule apparently).

The meet­ing last­ed 50 minutes.


Gifts were exchanged…

Michael strik­ing down Lucifer – Fran­cis­co de Comontes,  cir­ca 1500

The Pope offered a medal on which appears the angel van­quish­ing the demon. “This is a medal which rep­re­sents a world based on Peace and Jus­tice”, said the Pontiff.

And since the fact the Pope accept­ed to meet Tayyip has pro­voked strong reac­tions, some pro­gres­sive media in Turkey attempt to read into this “a sub­lim­i­nal message”.

The crisis of the chair

Fol­low­ing the vis­it, Erdoğan’s sup­port­ers invent­ed a “cri­sis of the chair”.

Trans­la­tion of his fan’s words [the orig­i­nal is full of mis­takes…  for a Turk proud of his Nation, not being able to write his own lan­guage tops everything!] :

The dif­fer­ence of our dif­fer­ence is the fact that our Leader is smart and cun­ning… AND THAT THE TURKISH NATION IS ALSO CUNNING AND SMART… 

When he asked for a chair at the same lev­el as the Pope’s, the small chair they offered stayed in their hands… They were going to humil­i­ate Erdoğan in the eyes of the World, once again he defeat­ed their polit­i­cal pow­er schemes… 

Bravoo REIS”

A Kemal­ist fel­low replied:

There was no chair cri­sis at the meet­ing between the Pres­i­dent of the Repub­lic Erdoğan and Pope Fran­sis­cus at the Vatican…Don’t attempt a use­less pub­lic opin­ion oper­a­tion. Stop say­ing that the chair that was set aside for the trans­la­tor was meant for Erdoğan and that he had it replaced. You are mak­ing your­self ridiculous.” 

Thus ends the sto­ry of the 3 bears…

Human­ists will appre­ci­ate this homage paid to the Cal­liph by the author­i­ties at the Vat­i­can. Many will no doubt be expect­ing a com­ment, a posi­tion state­ment fol­low­ing the recep­tion of a noto­ri­ous assas­sin by a moral and reli­gious authority. 

And in order to stay clear of haz­ardous com­par­isons, and for the sim­ple fun of it, we invite you to re-lis­ten to the mag­nif­i­cent text by Jacques Prévert that spoke vol­umes about the recep­tions at the Vat­i­can in the thir­ties… the vis­i­tor then being El Duce, Ben­i­to Mussolini.
[Trans­la­tor’s note: No Eng­lish trans­la­tion here, but whether you under­stand French or not, Serge Reg­gian­i’s mas­ter­ful inter­pre­ta­tion is worth a listen].

Monde • Erdoğan croise le Pape au Vat­i­can Cliquez pour lire

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