MEPs call for action to safeguard Hagia Sophia as world heritage site

NEWS 17.07.2020 18:19
Source: OZAN KOSE / AFP

About 90 members of the European Parliament, including those from the Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ), have expressed their dissatisfaction with Turkey's decision to convert the Hagia Sophia museum into a mosque, calling for action to safeguard this world heritage site.

In a letter to EU foreign affairs chief Josep Borrell and UNESCO, MEPs said that “the instrumentalisation of Hagia Sophia by the Republic of Turkey in order to exercise pressure towards Europe unequivocally proves that the Republic of Turkey actively disregards international law and European values.”

The letter was signed by the HDZ’s MEPs, who are members of the European People’s Party group, Zeljana Zovko, Karlo Ressler, Tomislav Sokol and Suncana Glavak.

“I call upon UNESCO and the World Heritage Committee to respond and identify those responsible for this unilateral action against the heritage that belongs to the whole world,” Zovko said in a statement.

The MEPs called upon UNESCO to “take the proper actions in order to safeguard this World Heritage Site, to protect international agreements and the UNESCO framework and to uphold our core European values and principles.”

Last week the highest Turkish court annulled the 1934 decision by the father of modern Turkey, Kemal Ataturk, to convert the Hagia Sophia into a museum.

UNESCO has announced that it will reconsider the status of Hagia Sophia, inscribed on the World Heritage List in 1985, at its next meeting. “It is regrettable that the Turkish decision was made without any form of dialogue or prior notice,” it said.