President Ersin Tatar invites His Holiness Pope Francis to TRNC
President Ersin Tatar has invited Pope Francis to the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus.
The Pope, who is the head of the Catholic Church and sovereign of the Vatican City State, is staging a three-day visit to the Greek Cypriot Administration.
President Ersin Tatar issued a statement as well as sending a letter inviting His Holiness to hold contacts with himself and religious officials of the TRNC.
President Tatar's statement and invitation are as follows:
“The President of the Vatican City State and the spiritual leader of the Catholic world, Pope Francis is visiting South Cyprus on a three-day visit. It is regrettable that the Greek Cypriot Administration has tried to exploit this visit for its own political purposes and to use it against the Republic of Turkey and the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus.
We respect all religions, faiths, beliefs, clergy and Pope Francis, and it is a source of sadness for us that Pope Francis will only visit Southern Cyprus. There are two different peoples in Cyprus and not only Christian Greeks but also Muslim Turks occupy the island. This is one of the fundamental realities of Cyprus.
Pope Francis had visited the Republic of Turkey following the invitation by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in 2014. Following his visit to Anıtkabir, in his meeting with President Erdoğan, he had also called for ‘increasing interfaith dialogue so that all believers are treated on an equal basis’.
As Pope Francis pointed out in this call, all peoples and nations, regardless of their religious beliefs, should be treated equally, not excluded, and not discriminated against. This is our belief and aspiration. The Turkish Cypriot people should not be subjected to exclusion and discrimination because they believe in Islam and are Muslims.
With these feelings and thoughts and with my most sincere feelings, I invite Pope Francis, for whom we have a great deal of respect, to visit TRNC. It is my hope and expectation that as he has stated repeatedly, Pope Francis responds positively to our invitation and treats all believers on an equal basis.”