ATHENS — President of the Hellenic Republic Katerina Sakellaropoulou on Tuesday met her Cyprus counterpart Nicos Anastasiades at the Presidential Mansion in Athens.
Sakellaropoulou stressed that Turkey's decision to convert Hagia Sophia into a mosque has irreparably affected Hellenism and the Christian world and added: "It also deeply hurts all those who, regardless of their religious beliefs, realise that a foremost monument for humanity, such as Hagia Sophia, can not be instrumentalised in order to serve goals that are foreign to it and its inter-religious radiance."
At the same time, she pointed out that Hagia Sophia, as part of the world's cultural heritage, has managed in the last century to function as a place of unity and meeting of cultures and the peaceful coexistence of religions. "Its conversion into a mosque alienates Turkey from the values of the secular state and the principles of tolerance and pluralism and inadvertently divides our region," Sakellaropoulou said.
The Greek President also stressed that Greece, the European Union and the entire international community must fight and mobilise all appropriate means in order to preserve Hagia Sophia's universal character and restore historical truth.
Referring to foreign ministers' council on Monday, she noted that the EU partners expressed solidarity with Greece and Cyprus and a decision was made to draw up a list of appropriate additional measures, assessing this as a step in the right direction, while expressing hope that there will be more to follow.
Addressing Anastasiades, she stated that she is looking forward to visiting Cyprus herself next September and noted that she expects to hear about the course of the Cyprus issue, which is a top national issue of Greek foreign policy.
She reiterated that "Greece will continue to stand firmly by the side of the Republic of Cyprus and to fully support the efforts to find a viable and operational solution, based on the relevant decisions of the UN Security Council and the European acquis."