Expert: the status of Hagia Sophia is not a religious question

Change the status of Hagia Sophia in Istanbul and its transformation from a Museum to a mosque is not a religious question and does not apply to relations between Christians and Muslims, but it will affect Turkey's relations with Greece, with Europe and with Russia, and President Tayyip Erdogan should very seriously think about whether to do this, according to the Greek expert, columnist, the former head of the Athens news Agency AMNA Michalis Psilos.

Turkish President Erdogan said that waiting for the decision of the state Council on the possibility of changing the status of Hagia Sophia and its transformation from a Museum into a mosque will do depending on him. The Supreme administrative court of Turkey - the state Council - 2 July, considered the question of changing the status of Hagia Sophia. The state Council believes that to change the status of the Cathedral is the presidential decree. It is expected that the Council's decision will be published within 15 days.

In his opinion, it is the internal policy of Erdogan with the aim to get the Islamic-conservative society that voted for him.

Psilos sure that the transformation of Museum into a mosque "just hurt" relations of Greece and Turkey. "Certainly, harm. These are movements that, in fact, harm not only the interests of the country, but mostly affect emotions on public opinion. I think that this change will lead to more hostile, I would say the trend in public opinion in Greece against Turkey. Because Hagia Sophia – a monument of world heritage and should remain that way. Don't know how politicians will handle the situation, but, of course, public opinion is affected very negatively," said Psilos.

He reminded that the Hagia Sophia is a UNESCO world heritage site. "Aya Sofya became a Museum in 1935, November 24, by the decision of the then President of Turkey, Kemal Ataturk. In 1982, Turkey signed the UNESCO international Convention on cultural heritage, which within three years was ratified by the Parliament and which provides that the entire historical district of Istanbul belongs to the cultural heritage of UNESCO. Based on the data and the status of UNESCO cannot be changed the status of the Museum and this monument of world heritage in any way," said Psilos.

According to him, Erdogan's statement about the plans to transform the Museum into a mosque associated with the domestic political situation.

Psilos sure that this development will affect not only the relations of Greece and Turkey, but will affect Turkey's relations with Europe and with Russia.

"I believe that Erdogan should think very seriously whether to do this for me is unacceptable, since it will be difficult to avoid possible sanctions and possible difficult situations that will probably require both the European Union and Russia", - said Psilos.

Aya Sofia was founded by the Christian Emperor Justinian and inaugurated on 27 December 537. Cathedral over a thousand years was the largest Church in the Christian world. After the capture of Constantinople by the Ottomans and the fall of the Byzantine Empire in 1453, the Cathedral was transformed into a mosque, but since the mid 30-ies of the last century the building by decree of the founder of the modern Turkish state Kemal Ataturk became a Museum and was included in the world heritage list of UNESCO.

Plans to change the status of the Museum caused a reaction in many countries in the world.

The Kremlin has stated that the decision on the status of Hagia Sophia an internal matter of Turkey, but I hope that Turkish authorities will take into account the significance of the Shrine.

Patriarch of Moscow and all Russia Cyril has acted with the special statement in which he called on the Turkish authorities to leave the Hagia Sophia in Istanbul the status of a Museum.

The state Duma adopted an appeal to the Grand national Assembly of Turkey in connection with the discussion of the question of changing the status of the Church-Museum of Hagia Sophia in Istanbul, urging to take all possible steps to prevent damage that can cause a hasty change of status.