Ankara responds to US State Dept’s statement: Sophia is Turkey’s property
Ankara is astonished by US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s remarks on preserving the museum status of Hagia Sophia.
Turkish Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hami Aksoy states that the country’s government has taken steps to protect freedom of religion and belief, noting that the Turkish constitution and legislation guarantee these freedoms for all citizens without any discrimination.
Hami Aksoy notes that Hagia Sophia is the property of Turkey like all cultural assets in the country and that it is an internal affair within Ankara’s sovereign rights.
“We are astonished by the press release issued by the U.S. Department of State on the status of the Hagia Sophia. <…> We protect meticulously all cultural properties that we own without any distinction, including Hagia Sophia, within the framework of the tradition of tolerance stemming from our culture and history.
Turkey has been delicately cherishing the historical, cultural and spiritual value of Hagia Sophia since its conquest.
On this occasion, we remind once again a reality that we have to repeat constantly. The Hagia Sophia is the property of Turkey, like all our cultural assets located on our land. Every kind of power disposition regarding Hagia Sophia is also an issue concerning our internal affairs within Turkey’s sovereignty rights,” wrote the diplomat.
As reported, the head of U.S. State Department, Mike Pompeo, urged Turkey to maintain the status of a museum for Hagia Sophia.