Today: Tuesday, 28 May 2024 year

Mitsotakis is disappointed with Ankara’s decision to turn a Byzantine temple into a mosque.

Mitsotakis is disappointed with Ankara’s decision to turn a Byzantine temple into a mosque.

Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said in an interview with the Milliyet newspaper that he was disappointed with the Turkish authorities’ decision to turn the Byzantine temple, Chora Monastery, into a mosque (Kariye, in Istanbul), which he said was contrary to joint efforts to strengthen mutual understanding.

Mitsotakis will visit Ankara on May 13 in response to the Turkish President’s visit to Athens in December 2023. Earlier, the Greek prime minister said that turning a historic Byzantine temple and monastery into a mosque is an insult, and he will raise this issue at a meeting with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Monday in Ankara.

“I am very disappointed by the recent decision of the Turkish authorities to turn a Byzantine monastery into a mosque and the previous decision on Hagia Sophia (the world famous mosque in Istanbul, before the fall of the Byzantine Empire was the largest temple in the Christian world). These decisions contradict the joint efforts to strengthen mutual understanding,” Mitsotakis said.

After four years, the Kariye Mosque in Istanbul (formerly the museum and Christian monastery of Chora) was opened for Muslim services on Monday, May 6, with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan taking part in the ceremony via video link. This is the first divine service in Karia in 79 years.

The Church of Christ the Savior in the Fields from the monastery ensemble in Chora has the status of a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The complex was built in 534. The building was converted into the Kariye Mosque at the beginning of the 16th century.

Chora Monastery was used as a mosque for more than four centuries and was converted into a museum in 1945 by ministerial decision. In August 2020, Erdogan signed a decree to convert the Hagia Sophia (Agia Sophia) and the Kariye Museum into mosques and begin Muslim worship there.

After the opening of the mosque in the church, a number of Greek politicians called on Mitsotakis to cancel his visit to Turkey.