Kremlin urges Turkey to consider Hagia Sophia’s significance as world heritage site amid mosque plans
The Kremlin hopes that Turkey will keep in mind the Hagia Sophia’s status as a UNESCO world heritage site when deciding the fate of the historic landmark, Russian presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov said on Monday. “We by all means hope that the Hagia Sophia’s status as a world heritage site will be taken into consideration,” he said.
“This is a world masterpiece beloved by tourists coming to Turkey from all over the world and especially by tourists from Russia, who not only recognize Hagia Sophia’s tourism value but also its sacred spiritual value,” Peskov added.
The spokesman noted that Patriarch Kirill, leader of the Russian Orthodox Church, and Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Vershinin, had already made statements on the matter. Peskov added that the Kremlin cannot comment on Ankara’s final decision. “This is the Turkish Republic’s internal affair,” TASS news agency quoted him as saying.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said earlier that a possible move to turn the former Byzantine Christian church from a museum into a mosque “is not unlikely.” A Turkish court heard a case aimed at converting the Hagia Sophia back into a mosque and will announce its verdict later this month.