A debate in Turkey on whether to convert Hagia Sophia into a mosque or keep it as a museum is being used to purse domestic political agendas, Istanbul mayor Ekrem Imamoglu said on Thursday, during a discussion on the Delphi Forum.
“It's sad that such an issue is being instrumentalized for domestic political reasons. These issues should be dealt with sensitivity, while taking into account both history and religion,” he told a discussion that included Athens mayor Kostas Bakoyannis.
He said Turkey, like the rest of the world, is currently facing much more important issues. “Sometimes, some countries need reasons for domestic political dispute so that they can better manage such [difficult] times,” he said.
“I believe that neither Istanbul nor Turkey needs this kind of confrontation at this time,” he continued, adding that these are issues that have to be carefully debated through the view of history and religion.
“I regret the fact that this issue has become a product of domestic politics.”
The discussion was moderated by Kathimerini's Executive Editor Alexis Papachelas.
Commenting on the same issue earlier in the day from Turkey, Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said that the country's Council of State will deliver its decision on the fate of the monument on July 2.