The prime minister made a special reference to the conversion of Hagia Sophia into a mosque while conversing with Harvard Professor Nicholas Burns during the 2020 Aspen Security Forum.
As he stressed, he believed that the conversion of Hagia Sophia into a mosque was “a completely unnecessary act. It has been a museum for 86 years. Constantinople is not without mosques. It has many beautiful mosques. So, why should someone take a church that was converted into a mosque and then a museum and has been a center of interfaith dialogue and politicize it in such a way.
It was a completely unnecessary act, which at the same time raises issues, because it is part of UNESCO World Heritage, which was declared a world heritage site as a museum, not as a mosque.
He also stressed that he made it clear to European partners that “if Turkey continues to take such action, there must be consequences. There should be sanctions.
So, either we will improve our relationship or the European Union must react, should Turkey continue to violate the sovereign rights of Greece and Cyprus. It is the first time that I see a greater understanding within the European Union that Turkey’s role in our region is not very constructive.
We have shown that we do not tolerate pressure, we react. We have the ability, the will, the national unity to react and support this policy. It is a carrot-and-stick approach, where carrot and stick should be used equally against Turkey.”