Greek Minister of Culture has been sending letters to UNESCO member states on Turkish aspirations for Hagia Sophia.
“It should be understood that under no circumstances should Hagia Sophia lose its ecumenical character and become a Muslim mosque,” Culture Minister Lina Mendoni said in a letter to UNESCO member states’ delegations in order to inform them about the Turkish government’s attempt to change the status of Hagia Sophia, which runs counter to the 1972 agreement signed by Turkey.
In her statement, the Greek Minister of Culture and Sports emphasized that Hagia Sophia -along with other monuments in Constantinople- is included in the UNESCO World Heritage List. Changing the status of such a monument presupposes a decision of the UNESCO Intergovernmental Committee. This has not happened. Turkey has signed the 1972 UNESCO Convention, so it is obliged to abide by it.
“What is being pursued today by the Turkish government and President Erdogan restores and rekindles national and religious fanaticism. The impairment of the value and global radiance of the monument is being pursued. A monument of universal value, such as Hagia Sophia, is being instrumentalized to serve internal political expediencies. An attempt is being made to bring the 15th century’s conditions back to the 21st century,” the minister noted.
She also clarified that since the UNESCO Intergovernmental Meeting has been postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic, and no new date for its convocation has been set, “we are obliged to inform the delegations of the UNESCO Member States so that it whould be understood that under no circumstances should Hagia Sophia lose its ecumenical character and become a Muslim mosque. That’s what we’re doing today.”