Greek PM Kyriakos Mitsotakis on Tuesday blasted the decision by Turkey to turn Hagia Sophia into a mosque, a move he said “which hurts us as Orthodox Christians but also as citizens of the world.”
Mitsotakis made his remarks after a meeting in Athens with the Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades.
“This is not a Greek-Turkish issue, it is not even a Euro-Turkish issue, it is global. It is a universal issue,” he stressed.
Mitsotakis added: “With this setback, Turkey is choosing to sever ties with the Western world and its values. It abandons a cultural direction of many centuries, preferring introversion. And it wraps with an artificial mantle of strength over its weakness.
“Hagia Sophia has followed an ecumenical course. It was Orthodox, Catholic and a mosque, and eventually became a world monument, something that does not change. Hagia Sophia surpasses us all. We will see if it continues to remain a UNESCO monument,” he warned.
President Anastasiades, on his part, also spoke about the violation of international law by Turkey on the issue of Hagia Sophia and noted: “We seek dialogue for peace and stability in the region. We do not provoke, but we are provoked. Not just Greece and Cyprus, but all Europe.”
Meanwhile, Turkey’s foreign minister chided the European Union over its condemnation of the Turkish decision to convert Istanbul’s iconic Hagia Sophia from a museum into a mosque, saying the matter is an issue of national sovereignty.
Asked to comment on the EU criticism, Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu told a joint news conference with his visiting Maltese counterpart: “We reject the word ‘condemnation.’”
“This is a matter that concerns Turkey’s sovereign rights,” he claimed.
Cavosoglu further argued that there were several mosques in the EU-member nation of Spain that had been converted into churches.