Turkish FM rejects EU’s ‘condemnation’ over Hagia Sophia

Turkish FM rejects EU’s ‘condemnation’ over Hagia Sophia

Turkish FM rejects EU’s ‘condemnation’ over Hagia Sophia

Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu has rejected remarks made by EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell who condemned Turkey’s decision to change the status of Hagia Sophia to a mosque.

“We reject the word ‘condemnation.’ There are sites that were built as a mosque in Spain and then turned into churches. Now do we also have to say to Spain, “Turn them into mosques, we condemn you?” he asked, speaking at a press conference with his Maltese counterpart Evarist Bartolo.

“If Borell had said, ‘It would be better if it did not open.’ I would respect that. If he had said ‘It would be better if it remained a museum.’ I would have respected it, but we reject the word ‘condemnation’,” the minister stated, emphasizing that Turkey acts in a “constructive manner” as the Hagia Sophia will be open for the visit of everybody.

The EU Foreign Affairs Council on July 13 “condemned the Turkish decision to convert such an emblematic monument as the Hagia Sophia,” Borrell said after a meeting.

“This decision will inevitably fuel the mistrust, promote renewed division between religious communities and undermine our efforts at dialog and cooperation,” Borrell said.


Maltese FM calls for ‘avoiding double standards’ for Libya

Bartolo, for his part, elaborated on the EU’s Operation Irini to enforce Libya arms embargo and said the block should avoid “double standards” when it comes to the union’s arms transfer to the North African country. “We do not want weapons to come to Libya, but we must be fair. We shouldn’t be two-faced. There shouldn’t be a double standard. If you do not want to enter weapons, it should cover not only the sea but also the airline and the highways,” he said.

“It cannot be a partial weapon embargo. What matters here is what you say matches what you do,” he stated.