Russia has said it expects Turkey to make a “balanced” decision regarding the status of Hagia Sophia in Istanbul, adding that the final verdict must take into account the guidelines set by UNESCO.
“We believe that the monument of Hagia Sophia is extremely important for all mankind in terms of culture and history,” Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said in comments to Russian media.
“Hagia Sophia is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and we believe that any request related to the status of the monument, including its maintenance and accessibility, will comply with the rules set and mandated by the organization,” Zakharova said.
“We expect that any decision on the status of this unique monument will be of a balanced nature, taking into account how sensitive this issue is for the faithful,” she said.
A Turkish court on Thursday heard a case aimed at converting the massive sixth century building – originally built as a Christian cathedral and today one of Turkey’s most visited tourist sites – into a mosque and will announce its verdict within 15 days.