EC on Hagia Sophia: The site should not be used to fuel religious tensions

The Commission said it would comment officially once a decision on the status of the UNESCO site was reached by Turkey’s Supreme Court and government

European Commission Chief Spokesperson Eric Mamer refrained form commenting when asked about the the fact that Orthodox Christians “would feel their rights were being violated if they were barred from entering the Hagia Sophia”, if it was converted into a Muslim mosque, explaining the decision by the Turkish Supreme Court was pending.

Mr Mamer added that “we understand that the Hagia Sophia is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, this is important and we need to look at it from this perspective.” He stressed that “Hagia Sophia is a symbol of tolerance, dialogue and we must not use these facts to fuel any disagreement between religions.”

His position came on the heels of a statement by Commission Vice-President Margaritis Schoinas, who described the historic temple as “a global symbol of the peaceful coexistence of religions and cultures”. He stressed that the Commission would take a position on the issue “when there is a final decision of the court and the Turkish government”.

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