BEIRUT, LEBANON (4:45 P.M.) – Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said on Monday, that Ankara “will inform the World Heritage Organization (UNESCO) of the future steps it will take regarding the Hagia Sophia Museum after the decision to convert it to a mosque.”
In an interview with state-owned TRT TV, Cavusoglu said, “Ankara is surprised by the statements of UNESCO about the Hagia Sophia … We will inform the organization of the future steps in this regard,” after the organization expressed its concern about the Turkish move.
He also responded to Greek criticism of the move and stated that “Greece is the only country that does not have a mosque in its capital and has no right to speak of Hagia Sophia.”
The Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias has stated that it is “dangerous” to consider converting the Hagia Sophia in Istanbul into a mosque.
“Greece will ask the European Union to draw up a list of the strongest possible measures against Turkey in the event that Turkey violates Greece’s sovereign rights,” Dendias said, in an interview with Sky News, Monday in Brussels.
He pointed out: “The sanctions will not relate to the problem of Hagia Sophia. There should be an initiative by UNESCO and the United Nations, not just Greece, and Erdogan doing everything intentionally, but rather he abolishes his country’s traditions and turns his back on the international community and its rules.”
Meanwhile, Culture Minister Lina Mendoni said in a statement that “the decision to transform the Hagia Sophia Museum, which came as a result of President Erdogan’s political will, is an open provocation to the civilized world that recognizes the unique value and ecumenical nature of the memorial,” according to Agence France-Presse.
It is noteworthy to mention that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has signed a decree to convert the Hagia Sophia museum in Istanbul into a mosque.