Russia calls on Turkey to maintain Hagia Sophia as museum – Middle East Monitor

Russia’s Kremlin yesterday called on Turkey to maintain Hagia Sophia’s status as a UNESCO world heritage site and not to return it into a mosque as it was before the finish of the Othman Empire, TASS news agency reported.

Speaking to reporters, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said: “We by all means hope that Hagia Sophia’s status as a world heritage site will be taken into consideration.”

He added: “Of course, this is a world masterpiece beloved by tourists coming to Turkey from all over the world and especially by tourists from Russia who not only recognise Hagia Sophia’s tourist value but also it’s sacred spiritual value.”

Peskov continued: “We do hope that all this will be taken into account by our Turkish colleagues and partners,” stressing that the Kremlin can not comment on Turkey’s decision itself. “This is the Turkish republic’s internal affair,” he stressed.

READ: Russian church leader says calls to turn Hagia Sophia into mosque threaten Christianity

Earlier yesterday, TASS reposted Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Vershinin telling reporters, Russia expects Turkey will require into account the global need for Hagia Sophia, when deciding on the fate with this historical monument.

CNN Turk reported that Turkey’s State Council discussed the problem on 2 July, upon the guidelines from Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

The debate lasted 17 minutes, and the decision is expected to be published within another 15 days.

The Turkish government turned the mosque into a museum in 1934, during the early years of the modern secular Turkish state founded by Mustafa Kemal Ataturk. The court case disputes the legality of the conversion.