ROC: the transformation of Hagia Sophia into a mosque "could affect the course of history"

The decision of Turkey's President Tayyip Erdogan about the transformation of the Hagia Sophia in Istanbul into a mosque is able to "influence the course of history" and does not serve the promotion of peace and interfaith harmony, said Deputy head of the Department for external Church relations (DECR) of the Moscow Patriarchate Archpriest Nikolai Balashov.

Turkey's President on Friday signed a decree on awarding the Hagia Sophia in Istanbul to the status of the mosque. Before that, the state Council of Turkey annulled the decision of 1934 about the Museum the status of a Cathedral.

"Statesmanship Erdogan is not enough. Act not in the interests of their own people," wrote Balashov on the page in social network Facebook.

According to him, what is happening to cause the representatives of the Church of the feelings mentioned in the recent statement by Patriarch Kirill: "the pain, bitterness, indignation."

The Hagia Sophia 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 converted into a mosque but since 1934 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.