Turkey will protect the cultural heritage of Hagia Sophia “by bringing it back to its roots,” as its ancestors did, said Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
“While we will make Hagia Sophia compatible with its foundation again, we will preserve the cultural heritage as our ancestors did,” Erdogan said after a cabinet meeting at the presidential complex.
“We turned Hagia Sophia into a museum (in 1934) with a wrong decision and we turn it into a mosque again,” added the Turkish president.
“We are undoing the mistake that was made in 1934,” said Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
“It goes without saying that we will protect the cultural heritage of Hagia Sophia, there is no doubt about that… We reached this decision on Hagia Sophia based on the freedom and rights of our nation. “We are excited about converting it from a museum into a mosque, as it will serve the world according to the purpose of its creation,” he said, but went on to make some more provocative assertions.
“Hagia Sophia was turned into a mosque from a museum, not from a church… When we ‘received’ Hagia Sophia, it was a wreck and then became our masterpiece. “The conquest of Istanbul cannot be a disgrace to anyone on this earth.”
He also claimed that there are four to five times more places of worship in Turkey for non-Muslims than Europe has for Muslims.
“There is an average of one place of worship for every 460 non-Muslims, while in Europe there is an average of one place of worship for every 2,000 Muslims,” he said.
Greek Foreign Minister: We asked the EU to draw up a list of heavy sanctions on Turkey
During the meeting of the Foreign Affairs Council, Greece has asked for a list of specific sanctions on Turkey, Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias said in an interview on Star TV. “To be precise, heavy sanctions that will create a huge problem in the Turkish economy. We have to draw up this list in order to be ready. And let Turkey know where it is going, but let us not leave any doubt about our intentions, as Europeans. The Greek territory also happens to be European. And the EU must defend its own territory,” he explained.
Nikos Dendias also welcomed the position of EU foreign ministers at yesterday’s meeting of Foreign Affairs Council regarding Turkey’s decision to turn Hagia Sophia into a mosque. “On behalf of the EU, clearly at our request, since it was not included in the first draft of the communiqué, the Council condemned this move and demanded that the decision be revoked,” he said, adding that UNESCO should take any initiative in this matter.
He described Turkey’s allegations on the issue as comical and pointed out that Greece in Thrace has around 260 mosques for a population of around 150,000, perhaps less. “It is, I think, the largest per capita number of mosques on the planet. Greece is an EU Member State that naturally respects human rights. Turkey is the last country to teach us a lesson in respect for human rights,” he added.
Greek, Turkish, German officials hold informal meeting in Berlin
Greek, Turkish and German officials held an informal meeting in Berlin on Tuesday, government sources reported on Tuesday evening.
Germany reportedly invited Turkish President Erdogan’s advisor Ibrahim Kalin to a meeting with Chancellor Angela Merkel’s foreign policy advisor Jan Hecker and Eleni Sourani, European Affairs expert at Maximos Mansion.
Greek government sources said that the results of Monday’s Foreign Affairs Council meeting confirm that the Greek positions are accepted and that the Turkish side is called to de-escalate the provocative actions.
“In any case, the channels of communication need to remain open, especially in times of crisis,” the same sources noted.