“The fact that President Erdogan is now exploiting Hagia Sophia for his own political purposes and converted it into a mosque clearly shows that religion is not in the forefront, but it is rather a divisive political ideology,” Austrian Minister for Integration Susanne Raab said.
“The Hagia Sophia museum was open to millions of people of all cultures and religions and was an important and beautiful symbol of peaceful coexistence for decades,” she added.
Austrian Foreign Minister Alexander Schallenberg had recently denounced the conversion of Hagia Sophia from a museum into a mosque and had said that it was the “latest link in a chain of provocations.” He also referred to the recent political developments in Libya and northern Iraq and noted that Turkey was not “a reliable partner of Europe.”
In addition, he highlighted that the European Union must pursue “a strong policy towards Turkey and speak clearly (…) on a firm basis of values.” At the same time, he reiterated its call for an end to Turkey’s EU accession negotiations. Finally, he stressed that “the EU should be clear and declare that such things would no longer be permissible and right.”