.- The spiritual leader of the world's Orthodox Christians cautioned Turks, in an interview published in Sunday’s Sabah newspaper, against creating potential "unpleasant incidents" during Pope Benedict XVI's trip to Turkey next week.
Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I said the Pope's trip, scheduled for Nov. 28-Dec. 1, was a great opportunity for the country, and one that should not be disrupted by violent protest.
He warned that if protests turn violent, they could cause problems for Turkey in its efforts to join the European Union.
"The Pope has a say in all Catholic countries," Bartholomew reportedly told Sabah. "If there are psychologically unpleasant incidents, then this would be an issue in Brussels in December. Even if not at the official level, they would talk about it between themselves."
Bartholomew, however, said he would tell the pontiff that "it is not wrong for Turkey to become a member of the EU as a Muslim country because it would bring mutual richness."
"The EU should not remain as a Christian club," the newspaper quoted Bartholomew as saying.