Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced that the nature of the use of "Hagia Sophia" relates to the sovereignty of Turkey, noting that turning the church into a mosque again is a step that history will record in its pages.
After signing a decree to return the Hagia Sophia Church to a mosque based on the decision of the Supreme Court in Turkey, Erdogan said that he calls everyone to respect the Supreme Court’s decision regarding the Hagia Sophia, adding that he does not interfere in the affairs of other countries, especially in the issue of places of worship, and “I will not accept By external interference in Turkey's internal affairs. "
He pointed out that the right of the Turkish people to "Hagia Sophia" is no less than the right of those who established it 1500 years ago.
Erdogan stressed that the Hagia Sophia will be open to all Muslims, Christians and all foreigners he means, noting that the first prayer in the mosque will be held on July 24.
Erdogan had signed a decree converting the Hagia Sophia to a mosque, shortly after the Supreme Administrative Court's decision to cancel the status of the Hagia Sophia as a museum.
Erdogan has published a copy of the decree he signed on his Twitter page, and the decree stipulates that a decision was taken to hand over the administration of the Hagia Sophia Mosque to the country's Religious Affairs Authority and open it to prayer.
Turkish presidential spokesman Ibrahim Caleen said that opening the Hagia Sophia for worship does not detract from his global historical identity, indicating that more people can visit him.
International responses to this step continued to criticize, as the European Union expressed regret over Erdogan's decision, and Joseph Borrell, the European Union’s chief foreign policy official, said that “the ruling of the Turkish State Council to annul one of the historical decisions of modern Turkey and President Erdogan's decision to place this effect under the Department of Religious Affairs is regrettable. ".
For her part, Greek Culture Minister Lina Mandoni said that the Turkish decision to convert the Hagia Sophia into a mosque is a "frank provocation" of the civilized world.
In a statement, the minister added that the nationalism shown by (Recep Tayyip) Turkish President Erdogan is returning his country 6 centuries back.
In this context, the head of the International Affairs Committee of the Council of the Russian Federation Konstantin Kucachev said that the decision of the Turkish authorities provoked a negative response throughout the Christian world. In a press statement, Kucachov indicated that with this decision, Ankara would appear to violate the religious balance and lose its influence as an important religious player, as he put it.
For its part, the Russian news agency TASS reported that the Orthodox Church in Russia today expressed regret that the Turkish judiciary did not pay attention to its concerns and ruled that it was illegal to convert the Hagia Sophia Mosque in Istanbul to a museum according to a government decree dating back to the thirties of the twentieth century, and said that the decision may cause major divisions .
Russian officials and the Russian Orthodox Church have urged Turkey to be cautious about efforts to return the Hagia Sophia Museum in Istanbul to a mosque, as it has a "sacred value" for the Russians.
In turn, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) called on Turkey to dialogue before any decision is likely to "undermine the global value" of this global monument.
In response to a question to Agence France-Presse on Friday, UNESCO-based Paris stressed by e-mail that "Hagia Sophia was on the World Heritage List of Humanity as a museum, which entailed a number of legal obligations."
"Therefore, the state must ensure that any amendment does not adversely affect the global value of the sites listed on the UNESCO list. Any amendment requires a prior notification to UNESCO from the country concerned and then an examination by the World Heritage Committee."
UNESCO expressed "these concerns to Turkey in several messages," as well as in a message sent to the Turkish representative at UNESCO Thursday evening, calling "the Turkish authorities to start a dialogue before taking any decision that might undermine the global value of the site."
The Hagia Sophia Church was transformed into a mosque with the Ottomans conquering Constantinople "Istanbul" in 1453, then it became a museum in 1935 by the President of the Turkish Republic, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, with the aim of "dedicating him to humanity."
And Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has previously proposed returning the UNESCO World Heritage Site to a mosque again.
Erdogan last week described criticism of a possible diversion of this historical impact as an attack on Turkish sovereignty.