Recently, once again, the issue of the conversion of Hagia Sophia into a mosque has been added to the Greek-Turkish disputes.
Some governments and perhaps some international organizations will react, at least, for appearances’sake.
What is troubling, though, is the attitude of the primates of the Orthodox Churches who, with the exception of Russia, which asked not to convert the temple into a mosque, because, among other things, Princess Olga was baptized in Hagia Sophia, have not yet reacted.
Ecclesiastical diplomacy in this case, as in other countries in the Balkans, has not worked. There is no common front with the Phanar so that all Orthodox can intervene in matters relating to the exercise of religious rights or the protection of monuments.
Even Athens (currently unresponsive) has not led a movement for the Hagia Sophia that could mobilize all the forces of the Orthodox community and beyond. Other doctrines could also get a say in this.
Despite the dynamics that could be developed, there is nothing specific. The Phanar and Moscow could not issue a joint statement due to Ukraine’s autocephaly, which also affects the Patriarchates of Serbia and Antioch that support Russia.
With the exception of Russia, which even uses the Church in foreign affairs, ecclesiastical diplomacy on the part of Greece has been exhausted in the expatriates and there has never been an effort, in an organized and serious manner, to make good use of the issues of Orthodox rights, the conservation and the protection of monuments, as well as the protection of religious freedom.
Hundreds of temples are being destroyed in occupied Cyprus, as are others being destroyed in areas where there used to be an Orthodox element. Something similar is happening in the Balkans, where in countries such as Montenegro, North Macedonia and Albania, Orthodox clergy have been persecuted from time to time.
The issue of Hagia Sophia is one of those that the Ecumenical Patriarchate cannot address for the simple reason that it is based in Turkey. Therefore, the mobilization of all other Churches and international organizations is the only thing that remains to solve this problem, which is international and not bilateral.