Er­do­gan shuns int’l con­cern over Ha­gia Sophia

Kathimerini English - - Front Page -

Turk­ish Pres­i­dent Re­cep Tayyip Er­do­gan in­sisted yes­ter­day the fate of the former Greek Ortho­dox church of Ha­gia Sophia is an in­ter­nal mat­ter for his country and that there­fore no one else can opine about it.

Er­do­gan added that any re­ac­tion out­side Turkey to the is­sue of whether or not to turn the Ha­gia Sophia into a mosque was an out­side in­ter­fer­ence in his country’s in­ter­nal af­fairs.

“Mak­ing such ac­cu­sa­tions against our country with re­gard to Ha­gia Sophia is tan­ta­mount to a di­rect at­tack on our sovereignt­y,” Er­do­gan was quoted as say­ing dur­ing the foun­da­tion cer­e­mony for a new mosque in Is­tan­bul, named af­ter Hayred­din Bar­barossa – the 16th-cen­tury Turk­ish cor­sair and later ad­mi­ral who es­tab­lished the naval dom­i­na­tion of the Ot­toman Em­pire in a large part of the East Mediter­ranean.

His re­marks came in re­sponse to con­cerns ex­pressed in re­cent days by sev­eral coun­tries and in­ter­na­tional bod­ies over any de­ci­sion to turn the his­toric cathe­dral from a mu­seum and UNESCO World Her­itage site into a mosque.

Ear­lier, the spokesman of the rul­ing AK Party, Omer Ce­lik, de­nounced Greece over the fact that there is no op­er­at­ing mosque in Athens, and ac­cused it of pur­su­ing a state pol­icy to de­stroy Ot­toman mon­u­ments.

At the same time, the for­eign min­is­ters of Greece and Cyprus, Nikos Den­dias and Nikos Christodou­lides, met in Athens. Den­dias stressed that Turkey is deaf to Europe’s in­vi­ta­tions to com­ply with in­ter­na­tional law, re­gard­ing its in­ten­tions to con­duct ex­ploratory ac­tiv­i­ties within Greek wa­ters. He said that if Turkey en­ter­tains the idea of “turn­ing Greece into an is­land within a Turk­ish lake or sea, it can forget it.”

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