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Turkey said it will retain the Hagia Sophia as a world heritage site

Turkey will continue to preserve Hagia Sophia in Istanbul as a world heritage site by UNESCO after its conversion into a mosque, said on Monday Turkish foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu.

The state Council, Turkey's highest administrative court on Friday annulled the decision of 1934 the transformation of Hagia Sophia into a Museum. Immediately after President Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced that he had signed a decree about the transformation of the Cathedral into a mosque and the beginning of Muslim worship there.

UNESCO Director-General Audrey Azul previously said he deeply regrets Turkey's decision to change the status of Hagia Sophia in Istanbul, which was accepted "without dialogue."

"We categorically reject comments that violate the sovereign right of Turkey. Disputes are irrelevant. We respect the opinions of those who wants this object was preserved as world heritage. But when it was opened as a mosque many years ago, nothing in it is not destroyed. We must preserve the legacy left by our ancestors. Therefore, some of the statements from UNESCO, we were surprised," said Cavusoglu, the TV channel TRT.

He added that Greece, which criticizes the decision of the Turkish authorities about the change of status of Hagia Sophia has no right to do it. "Greece is the only country where in the capital there is not a single mosque. We see the cruelty experienced by the Turks in Western Thrace. Greece has forbidden the calls to prayer under the pretext of combating coronavirus. So Greece has no right to talk about it," said Cavusoglu.

According to the Turkish Minister, opponents of the transformation of Hagia Sophia into a mosque should not rest on the fact that due to internal policy was violated will of atatürk. "The important thing is who leads Turkey to the objectives set by Ataturk," - said Cavusoglu.

Hagia Sophia (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.