Margaritis Schoinas, the Vice President of the European Commission, takes a stand on the issue of Hagia Sophia.
In a statement he made in an interview with the Greek channel MEGA, the Vice President of the European Commission said that Hagia Sophia was a “global symbol of peaceful coexistence between religions and cultures”. He stressed that the European Commission would take a position on the issue as long as “the final decision is made by the court and the Turkish government.”
The full statement of Margaritis Schoinas is the following:
“Hagia Sophia is a global symbol of the peaceful coexistence between religions and cultures by which the character of Constantinople is sealed. The European Commission’s response to the issue of Hagia Sophia will be given when the final decision is made by the court and the Turkish government.”
Moreover, Margaritis Schoinas, regarding the European Union’s relations with Turkey, said yesterday that the broader framework of Euro-Turkish relations was in flux and not in the responsibility of Europe: “The limits of this flux need to be clarified and tomorrow’s directions need to be very clear: How are we going to live together, how can we manage issues such as immigration and terrorism, how are we going to cohabit in the peripheral region that reaches the Eastern Mediterranean, Libya, North Africa, what opportunities will Turkey have in the long run to maintain a pre-accession perspective and how compatible that perspective will be with actions such as illegal drilling and Hagia Sophia,” he said.
It is recalled that the Supreme Court of Turkey announced that the current Turkish head of state had the right to decide whether to change Kemal Ataturk’s 1934 decree on the status of Hagia Sophia as a museum or not. The Supreme Court ruled that it was a legitimate decision to protect the museum status of Hagia Sophia, but noted that a presidential decree was enough to change it.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan responded immediately, rejecting criticism of his alleged intention to convert the former Basilica of Hagia Sophia into a mosque in Constantinople, despite concerns expressed in Turkey and abroad. “The allegations against our country regarding Hagia Sophia are equal to a direct attack on our sovereignty,” Erdoğan said.