WASHINGTON, DC – In its July 1 newsletter, AHEPA applauded a June 25 tweet by U.S. Ambassador at Large for International Religious Freedom Sam Brownback on the status of Hagia Sophia, and further, echoed the ambassador’s call for the Turkish government to maintain it as a UNESCO World Heritage site and its accessibility as a museum, announced Supreme President George G. Horiates.
Ambassador Brownback tweeted: “The Hagia Sophia holds enormous spiritual & cultural significance to billions of believers of different faiths around the world. We call on the Govt of #Turkey to maintain it as a @UNESCO World Heritage site & to maintain accessibility to all in its current status as a museum.”
The U.S Department of State's 2019 International Religious Freedom report on Turkey and the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom's (USCIRF) 2020 report on Turkey each cited Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's public calls to convert Hagia Sophia to a mosque in their findings. In 2019, USCIRF had issued a statement on the matter.
“AHEPA welcomes the findings in these reports and urges the U.S. government to implement their policy recommendations,” Horiates said.
In a 2016 statement, AHEPA stated Turkey must meet its responsibility as a State Party to the World Heritage Convention and called for UNESCO to intervene.
In 2013, AHEPA wrote to UNESCO based on a threat by a then-high-ranking Turkish government official to convert Hagia Sophia into a mosque. AHEPA appealed to UNESCO to address the matter and to express concern about the loss of the Byzantine cultural tradition Hagia Sophia will surely encounter if converted to a mosque.
Also in the newsletter, AHEPA welcomed the support conveyed by a senior U.S. Department of State official and the head of a federal agency responsible for global development for proposed U.S. investment in Greece, and commended all the parties responsible, announced Supreme President George G. Horiates.
On June 26, U.S. International Development Finance Corporation CEO Adam Boehler wrote to Greece's Minister for Development and Investment Adonis Georgiadis to advise the minister, "I am pleased to inform you that we recently signed a retainer letter with ONEX Shipyards to pursue the purchase and renovation of Elefsina Shipyard.”
In a June 26 tweet, Under Secretary of State for Economic Growth, Energy, and Environment Keith Krach wrote: "Great to see @AdamUSDFC support for @ONEXShipyards interest in Elefsina Shipyards, a key regional energy project. USA & Greece are working together to diversify energy supplies & create opportunities for U.S. and Greek business.”
In response to Under Secretary Krach's tweet, AHEPA stated: “Another key development in U.S.-Greece relations. If finalized, this action would spur U.S. investment in #Greece, job creation & energy diversification. We welcome the support of U/S Krach & @AdamUSDFC& commend all parties responsible. #ONEX @MinDevGR @state_e @USAmbPyatt@DFCgov.”
Also in the newsletter, an update on the virtual conventions as Supreme President George Horiates participated on 17 zoom district conventions during May and June. Full and/or partial conventions were held throughout the domain, including one in-person convention.
Supreme Lodge executive officers and Supreme Governors also participated. Special thanks was expressed to Executive Director Basil Mossaidis who provided reports to ten districts and scheduled half of the meetings.
The remaining districts are scheduled to hold four conventions during the balance of summer and four are scheduled in September.
More information is available online: ahepa.org.