The telephone communication of Greek Minister of Foreign Affairs Nikos Dendias, during his stay in Paris, with the Director-General of UNESCO, Audrey Azoulay, focused on the Greece-UNESCO cooperation, as well as on issues regarding the protection of the world’s cultural heritage.
It is noted that a few days ago, Ms. Azoulay, responding to a letter by the Minister of Foreign Affairs, addressed to her on the occasion of the reading of a Quran verse in Hagia Sophia during the celebrations of May 29 for the anniversary of the Fall of Constantinople, confirmed to the Greek Minister that the organization is closely monitoring the situation, in the aftermath of the Turkish announcements for the conversion of Hagia Sophia from a museum to an Islamic mosque.
The United Nations official recalled that the monument, due to its exceptional world value, has been on the World Heritage List since 1985 as a museum included in the historic zone of Constantinople.
In accordance with the procedures provided for in the World Heritage Convention, prior to any decision on any conversion of such a monument, prior official notification of the State party to the Convention to UNESCO is required.
The competent 21-member intergovernmental committee, which is considering the appropriate solutions, then convenes to maintain the monument’s exceptional global value.
The Director-General of UNESCO stressed in her letter that she has reiterated to Turkey the importance of the above fundamental principles and that UNESCO is alert, closely monitoring the situation.