A cavalry regiment escorted Pope Francis to the new presidential palace in Ankara, where Turkish President Erdogan was waiting for him.
At the entrance of the impressive palace, a large number of soldiers welcomed the Pope with military honors.
The Pope greeted the Turkish delegation and began his private meeting with President Erdongan with this handshake.
After the meeting, the Turkish President delivered a speech where he said that Islamophobia is growing in the world. He also regretted that Muslims are seen as terrorists and condemned the violence in the Middle East.
In his address, the Pope denounced the ongoing wars in the region and called for a lasting peace. He stressed that all citizens must enjoy equal rights.
"It is essential that all citizens – Muslim, Jewish and Christian – enjoy, both in the provision and practice of the law, the same rights and respect the same duties. They will then find it easier to see each other as brothers and sisters who are in the same path, seeking always to reject misunderstandings while promoting cooperation and concord.”
The Pope explained that interreligious dialogue and solidarity can overcome fundamentalism and terrorism.
"Fanaticism and fundamentalism, as well as irrational fears which foster misunderstanding and discrimination, need to be countered by the solidarity of all believers. This solidarity must rest on the following pillars: respect for human life and for religious freedom, that is the freedom to worship and to live according to the moral teachings of one’s religion; commitment to ensuring what each person requires for a dignified life; and care for the natural environment.”
Pope Francis also referred to Christians and other minorities that are persecuted in Syria and Iraq, where, he added, human rights are seriously attacked. Still, he repeated that military intervention is not the solution.
"In reaffirming that it is licit, while always respecting international law, to stop an unjust aggressor, I wish to reiterate, moreover, that the problem cannot be resolved solely through a military response.”
Finally, he stressed that the international community has a "moral obligation" to help Turkey and provide aid to the hundreds of thousands of refugees who flee to the country from the Middle East.