Greek media report that UNESCO officials have asked the Turkish Government to give up on the announced idea to turn Hagia Sophia into a mosque.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan recently criticized the 1935 decision to turn Hagia Sophia into a museum. The massive 6th century A.D. cathedral was the seat of Orthodox Christianity until the Ottoman conquest in 1453, when it was converted into a mosque.
Erdogan made the statement in the run up to the municipal elections, when the secularist, left leaning CHP party is seriously threatening his mayoral candidate in the capital of Ankara. The statement also came in the aftermath of the New Zealand mosque massacre, where the attacker was apparently inspired in part by the wars of Orthodox Christians and Ottomans in the Balkans.
The Greek Government responded strongly against Erdogan’s announcement that he might order Hagia Sophia reconverted into a mosque. According to Greek Foreign Minister Georgios Katrougalos, this would be an insult to Christians and to the entire international community.