Turning the Hagia Sophia in Istanbul into a mosque may lead to a split between Christians around the world and Turkey, and Athens hopes that Ankara will take this into account and preserve the cultural monument's status, Greek government spokesman Stelios Petsas said on Thursday
ATHENS (Pakistan Point News / Sputnik - 02nd July, 2020) Turning the Hagia Sophia in Istanbul into a mosque may lead to a split between Christians around the world and Turkey, and Athens hopes that Ankara will take this into account and preserve the cultural monument's status, Greek government spokesman Stelios Petsas said on Thursday.
Last year, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan suggested that Hagia Sophia, formerly, the Church of the Holy Wisdom, which used to be an Orthodox Christian cathedral before becoming a mosque and then a museum, could become a mosque again with free admission. Earlier in the day, Turkey's Council of State held a meeting on the matter, and a final decision is expected within 15 days. Ankara considers the issue to be Turkey's internal affair and opposes any foreign intervention in the decision-making process.
"It is very positive that many countries � and the culmination was yesterday's statement by the US State Department about this � recently called on Turkey not to take a step that will create a huge spiritual gap between Christians around the world and Turkey. We hope that this will be taken seriously by the Turkish leadership and we look forward to its actions," Petsas said at a briefing.
The spokesman noted that the status of Hagia Sophia was a global, not bilateral, issue.
"We have spoken on this topic many times. This is not the issue of the Greek-Turkish relations, it is a global issue. The Hagia Sophia is a monument of world cultural heritage," Petsas argued.
On Wednesday, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo called on Turkey to keep Hagia Sophia as a museum accessible to everyone, saying that it was a testament to both religious expressions and to artistic genius.