The director-general of UNESCO, Audrey Azoulay, responded to the false statements of the Minister of Culture and Tourism of Turkey through a statement on the new status of Hagia Sophia.
The recent announcement, which was posted on the UNESCO website, is the following:
In reaction to numerous inaccurate statements and errors circulating in the press about the situation of Hagia Sophia, UNESCO wishes to recall the following:
UNESCO reacted to the change of Hagia Sophia’s status as early as July 2020 and expressed its concern in this regard. This position has remained constant since then.UNESCO immediately initiated a review process and sent a mission to the property from 5 to 9 October 2020, led by an eminent cultural heritage expert, to look in detail at each of the potential implications of this change in status, and their impact on the Outstanding Universal Value of the property. This review, which covers several components of the property Historic Areas of Constantinople, in particular Hagia Sophia and Chora, is still ongoing. The report referred to has not been finalized and no conclusions can be drawn at this time.
UNESCO’s work is governed by the rigorous values and procedures established by the 1972 Convention concerning the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage, ratified by 194 States. The World Heritage Committee, composed of 21 representatives of the States Parties to the Convention, is responsible for the implementation of the World Heritage Convention. The results of the mission and the ongoing reviews will be submitted to the World Heritage Committee at its next session, scheduled for June/July 2021.