Turkey: Cavusoglu rejects EU 'condemnation' over Hagia Sophia mosque conversion

Speaking from Ankara on the Turkish government's decision to convert the Hagia Sophia museum back into a mosque, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu stated on Tuesday that Turkey rejects the condemnation of the EU. «If Borell had said it would have been better if they had not opened this, we would also respect that. Had he said that if this place had stayed as a museum. But we are rejecting the condemnation, the language of condemnation,» the minister said. EU Foreign Minister Joseph Borell said on Monday that the EU condemned the move on the grounds that it would create divisions between religious communities and promote mistrust. «In Spain, there are buildings built as mosque, and they are now used as churches. There are such monuments. So should we now have a language saying, 'Spain we are condemning you because these were mosques before'? This is the reciprocity. Let alone this is something that concerns the rights of sovereignty,» he added. Turkey's Council of State last Friday overturned the 1934 decree, issued by the founding father of modern Turkey, Kemal Ataturk, that made Hagia Sophia into a museum. As the museum was originally a Byzantine church, the decision sparked strong reactions from Greece and the Eastern Orthodox Church, whose ecumenical patriarch resides in Istanbul, although the structure was used as a mosque from 1453 to 1935 during the Ottoman period.

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