Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis again criticised Turkey over its decision to convert Hagia Sophia into a mosque and called for European sanctions over Ankara’s policies in the Eastern Mediterranean region.
His comments were made during a meeting of the European People’s Party (EPP) held via video conference on Thursday.
Mitsotakis said the decision to alter the status of Hagia Sophia was indicative of Turkey’s understanding of international agreements, mutual respect and interfaith dialogue.
The Greek PM also expressed deep concern over Turkey's escalation of tensions in the broader region, adding that the EU’s foreign policy chief Josep Borrell should make a list of possible sanctions against Ankara.
Referring to the upcoming EU Summit where EU leaders will physically meet in Brussels to discuss the EU Recovery Fund and the bloc's Multi-Annual Budget, he stressed the need for an immediate finalisation of an agreement on both. Moreover, he conveyed the message that Greece disagrees with the proposal to reduce resources for border management and the migration crisis, emphasising that Greece is at the forefront of said crisis, as it defends European borders.
Στη Σύνοδο Κορυφής του @EPP τόνισα πως η ένταση που προκαλεί η Τουρκία στην ευρύτερη περιοχή επιβάλλει στην Ευρωπαϊκή Ένωση να προχωρήσει στην κατάρτιση της λίστας των πιθανών κυρώσεων. pic.twitter.com/jWzlx0TlXG
— Prime Minister GR (@PrimeministerGR) July 16, 2020
Meanwhile, Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias stated that Turkey "has offended the global community, regardless of nationality, past and religious beliefs," with its decision to turn Hagia Sophia into a mosque, during an interview with Alpha TV.
"What Turkey is doing is completely contrary to the legal status of UNESCO as regards monuments," he said.
"We, not as Greeks, but as protectors of the monument, will move as we have the right, as every person on the planet has the right, to enjoy the cultural goods, to protect the monument and to mobilise the global community as much as possible. In reality, we are defending universal values," Dendias added.
The Minister stressed that Turkey had chosen to designate Hagia Sophia as a World Heritage Site and was bound by the regime for the protection of monuments.
Η Τουρκία αστόχησε βαριά με αυτό το οποίο έκανε. Προσέβαλε την παγκόσμια κοινότητα ανεξαρτήτως θρησκείας. Πάνω σε αυτό πρέπει να στηρίξουμε την επιχειρηματολογία μας, αυτή είναι η εθνική μας θέση. #alphatv
— Nikos Dendias (@NikosDendias) July 16, 2020