republished below in full unedited for informational, educational and research purposes:
Lutfullah Goktas was speaking at a session on ‘The role of ambassadors in relations with the Vatican’ as part of an international symposium held at Napoli Federico II University in Naples titled ‘1929-2019: Ninety years of relations between state and religious groups.’
It was held on the occasion of the 90th anniversary of the Lateran Pacts between Italy and the Papacy.
Goktas said Turkey is a secular country and an overwhelming majority of its people are Muslims.
“Relations between the Papacy [Vatican] date back to the Ottoman [Empire] era. The establishment of diplomatic ties between Turkey and the Vatican, however, occurred in 1960 amid the reign of Pope John XXIII. We look forward to strengthening our relations further based on the principle of respecting differences.”
Since the early 2000s, according to Goktas, Turkey has made significant progress regarding freedom of religion in its territory, such as restoring churches and synagogues, resolving matters of immovable properties and registering legal entities.
“Based on the understanding of equal citizenship, our state is sensitive to the problems of members of other religions,” he said.