NEWS

Government launches international initiative for Hagia Sophia

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The ministers of Foreign Affairs and Culture, Nikos Dendias and Lina Mendoni, agreed to the creation of a small working group which will, within 10 days, propose a specific action plan for the immediate future in response to the conversion of the former church of Hagia Sophia in Istanbul from a museum into a mosque.

“We have repeatedly stressed that the conversion of Hagia Sophia into a mosque does not constitute a Greek-Turkish difference. However, of course, for us Greeks, this monument is of special importance and value,” Dendias said.

He added that “for this reason, we have decided to raise the issue through international initiatives that we will undertake, as European citizens and as citizens of the world community, talking to all international organizations and, of course, UNESCO.”

The meeting was also attended by Greek Ambassador to UNESCO Maria Diamantopoulou, the chair of the Greek National Commission for UNESCO Ekaterini Tzitzikosta and other officials.

Turkey changed the status of the 6th century monument, a UNESCO World heritage Site, earlier in the month and prayers are scheduled to be read there on Friday. The conversion of the former Greek Orthodox cathedral into a mosque has drawn worldwide condemnation.