Top Greek Diplomat Views Status Change of Istanbul's Hagia Sophia as Global Issue

© REUTERS / Kayhan OzerTurkish President Tayyip Erdogan accompanied by his wife Emine Erdogan attends the opening ceremony of the Yeditepe Biennial at the Hagia Sophia or Ayasofya Museum in Istanbul, Turkey, 31 March 2018.
Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan accompanied by his wife Emine Erdogan attends the opening ceremony of the Yeditepe Biennial at the Hagia Sophia or Ayasofya Museum in Istanbul, Turkey, 31 March 2018. - Sputnik International
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ATHENS (Sputnik) - Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias said in an interview with the Skai TV channel that it would be dangerous to look at the issue of Hagia Sophia’s conversion from a museum into a mosque from the perspective of the Greek-Turkish relationship alone, and called for addressing it as a global issue instead.

"There, [at the EU meeting] Greece will ask the European Union to draw up a list of the stringiest possible measures against Turkey in case it violates the sovereign rights of Greece", Dendias said in the interview.

The top diplomat went on to say that Greece's mediation in the debate was not enough and that the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) and the UN must show initiative.

"The danger is that we reflect on the issue of Hagia Sophia from the angle of the Greek-Turkish relationship, while it is a global one. It is the issue of neglecting the rules and disrespecting the world community", Dendias stated.

The minister noted that Ankara's decision on Hagia Sophia was another provocative action against Greece and other countries in the region, and the fact that Turkey did not show any spirit of cooperation to comply with international law should not be ignored.

© REUTERS / Murad SezerMuslims gather for evening prayers in front of the Hagia Sophia or Ayasofya, after a court decision that paves the way for it to be converted from a museum back into a mosque, in Istanbul, Turkey, July 10, 2020
Top Greek Diplomat Views Status Change of Istanbul's Hagia Sophia as Global Issue - Sputnik International
Muslims gather for evening prayers in front of the Hagia Sophia or Ayasofya, after a court decision that paves the way for it to be converted from a museum back into a mosque, in Istanbul, Turkey, July 10, 2020

EU ministers of foreign affairs are expected to discuss on Monday the Turkish top administrative court's decision to annul a 1934 cabinet decree converting Hagia Sophia into a museum and giving a green light for it to be used as a mosque.

On Friday, Turkey's Council of State annulled the historic decree that made the site a museum for the past 80 years. The decision means that Hagia Sophia can now be used as a mosque, and a presidential decree was signed opening the site for Muslim prayers.

During a recent television appearance, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said that his country would continue to "take the right path, in order to build a mighty and strong Turkey".

The ruling to turn the site in Istanbul into a mosque has been met with firm resistance from many members of the international community. The Russian Orthodox Church has expressed its regret that Ankara ignored calls to preserve the site as a museum.

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