VATICAN (CWNews.com)–The Vatican has not yet offered any official statement on the prospect of Turkey’s entry into the European Union–but believes that the union should cover Europe "from the Atlantic to the Urals," according to Archbishop Giovanni Lajolo.
In a lengthy interview with the Italian daily La Stampa–the Vatican’s Secretary for Relations with States did observe that if Turkey enters the European Union–the government of that predominantly Muslim country will be obliged to fulfill the same political criteria as all other member-states–including the guarantee of religious freedom. And that guarantee–the archbishop added–should be "not only ensured in the constitution–legislation–and administration–but also protected concretely and effectively in the social realm."
Archbishop Lajolo stressed that "the Holy See is not afraid of enlarging Europe." He pointed out that in the past the Vatican has supported the application of Eastern European countries for EU membership. In determining which states should enter the Union–he said–"The decisive point is that the new Europe should have a deep internal cohesion."
The archbishop said that European leaders should "pay more attention" to other countries that have already indicated a desire to join the Union–such as Romania–Bulgaria–Croatia–Ukraine–Georgia–and Armenia. These countries–he observed–are clearly aligned with Europe’s cultural tradition.