Too Late, But Greece Will Make International Appeal for Aghia Sophia

Αssociated Press

A view of the Byzantine-era Hagia Sophia, one of Istanbul s main tourist attractions in the historic Sultanahmet district of Istanbul, Thursday, June 25, 2020. (AP Photo/Emrah Gurel)

ATHENS – With Turkey about to unveil the opening of the ancient Aghia Sophia in Constantinople as a mosque, and covering Christian mosaics during Muslim prayer services, Greece is working on a scheme for a response, seeking international aid.

Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias and Culture Minister Lina Mendoni are going to set up a small working group which will come up with a plan by early August, said Kathimerini, although it wasn't said what they could do about it.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, continuing to taunt Greece with more provocations, ordered the transition of Aghia Sophia, which in 1934 was turned into a museum after being a mosque when the city fell to the Turks in 1453, into a mosque.

Turkey's highest court said it was his decision to make, indicating he is the rule of law in that country where he is jailing journalists and had purged civil society, the courts and military after a failed 2016 coup attempt against him.

“We have repeatedly stressed that the conversion of Hagia Sophia into a mosque does not constitute a Greek-Turkish difference. However, of course, for us Greeks, this monument is of special importance and value,” Dendias said.

He added that “for this reason, we have decided to raise the issue through international initiatives that we will undertake, as European citizens and as citizens of the world community, talking to all international organizations and, of course, UNESCO,” reported the newspaper Kathimerini.

The meeting was attended by Greek Ambassador to UNESCO Maria Diamantopoulou, the chairwoman of the Greek National Commission for UNESCO Ekaterini Tzitzikosta and other officials.