Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan met Pope Francis as part of his two-day visit to the Vatican City, which saw him being welcomed with an official ceremony at the Apostolic Palace. Erdoğan’s visit was the first by a Turkish president to the Vatican in 59 years, during which he discussed the status of Jerusalem with the pope. Small-scale scuffles broke out between police and demonstrators nearby. Returning a visit made by the pope to Turkey in 2014, Erdoğan spoke privately with Francis for about 50 minutes in the pontiff’s frescoed study in the Vatican’s Apostolic Palace, which he uses mostly for ceremonial purposes.
The two leaders later went for a closed-door meeting at the palace’s Library Hall, which ended after one hour. The president and First Lady Emine Erdoğan were initially received by Archbishop Georg Ganswein at the San Damaso Courtyard. Erdoğan’s delegation included Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu, Economy Minister Nihat Zeybekci, Defense Minister Nurettin Canikli, EU Minister Ömer Çelik, and Energy Minister Berat Albayrak.
The pope and the Turkish president also exchanged gifts. Erdoğan presented a 24-piece miniature İznik pottery, which had been made with a ceramics technique popular at the time of Ottoman Sultan Süleyman the Magnificent. He also gave him a volume of poems by the medieval poet Rumi translated into Italian and English. At the end of the private part of the meeting, the pope gave Erdoğan a bronze medallion showing an angel embracing the northern and southern hemispheres while overcoming the opposition of a dragon. “This is the angel of peace who strangles the demon of war. [It is] a symbol of a world based on peace and justice,” the pope told Erdoğan as he gave him the medallion, made by the Italian artist Guido Verol.