In an effort to present Athens’ objections to the status of church-monument Hagia Sophia as an intervention in Turkey’s internal affairs, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan answered a relevant question by increasing the aggressive tone, in an interview with the Turkish national public broadcaster TRT.
The Turkish president said in particular: “They say we should not convert Hagia Sophia into a mosque. Who rules Turkey? You or we? Come on, compose yourself. If you do not know your limits, it is obvious what Turkey will do. Are you involved in the Turkish administration? They will decide. We will not ask your permission. As a state of law, we are waiting for the decision of the Council of State. After the decision, we will act accordingly.”
It is recalled that the Council of State of Turkey is expected to sit on July 2 in order to examine a request for annulment of the presidential decree that converted Hagia Sophia into a museum in 1934.
Although the Constitutional Court of Turkey issued a definitive and irrevocable decision on the case – by means of the law – in September 2018, when it rejected a similar request filed by the Turkish non-governmental organization “Association for the Protection of Historic Monuments and the Environment”, the issue now seems to be again at the level of the Council of State of Turkey, which suddenly decided to reexamine the request filed by the non-governmental organization.
Prosecutor asks for the case to be dismissed
The State Council prosecutor asked for the case to be dismissed, stating that the status of Hagia Sophia as a museum remains within the discretion of the state and that no infringement had been committed when Hagia Sophia was converted into a museum in 1934. However, the prosecutor’s opinion is not binding on the Council of State, which is why the 10th Division, which is dealing with the case, decided to reexamine the request to change the status of the Hagia Sophia in a mosque, with the case to be heard on July 2.
Hagia Sophia can be opened as a mosque
If the State Council Division decides during the July 2 hearing that the 1934 cabinet decision to turn Hagia Sophia into a museum contravenes the law, then Hagia Sophia will be reopened as a mosque.
The Turkish Council of State ordered last year that the Chora Monastery with its finest mosaics was reconverted from a museum into a mosque, and the same process may be proposed on July 2 by the Turkish State of Council for Hagia Sophia.
The non-governmental organization “Association for the Protection of Historical Monuments and the Environment” has been trying for 15 years by means of the law to achieve the annulment of the presidential decree that turned Hagia Sophia into a museum. All lawsuits filed between 2005 and 2019 have been dismissed, but after celebrating the 567th anniversary of the fall of Constantinople this year, the issue of Hagia Sophia found itself in the headlines.