Turkey, World

Turkey meets UNESCO obligations, says minister

Turkey's deputy foreign minister said UNESCO agreement does not restrain changing the function of world heritage site

Behlul Cetinkaya   | 11.07.2020
Turkey meets UNESCO obligations, says minister

ANKARA 

Turkey meets its responsibilities in line with UNESCO World Heritage Agreement, said Turkey's Deputy Foreign Minister Yavuz Selim Kiran.   

Taking to Twitter, Kiran wrote that Turkey abides by its responsibilities about Hagia Sophia while referring to the 1972 World Heritage Agreement. 

He also posted visuals of the agreement both in English and Turkish. 

"There is no obstacle to change the function of a world heritage site in the World Heritage Agreement," he said while quoting the agreement. 

He added that the agreement gives certain tasks and responsibilities to countries with world heritage sites, but does not violate their property and sovereignty rights. 

"The agreement does not restrict a country's sovereignty rights over the cultural heritage that it has in its borders. A functional change in Hagia Sophia does not mean violating the Agreement," said the minister.  

Earlier on Friday, a Turkish court annulled a 1934 cabinet decree, which had turned Istanbul's Hagia Sophia into a museum. 

The court move paved the way for its use again as a mosque after 85 years. 

The court ruled that the architectural gem was owned by a foundation established by Sultan Mehmet II, the conqueror of Istanbul, and presented to the community as a mosque -- a status that cannot be legally changed. 

Hagia Sophia was used as a church for centuries under the rule of the Byzantine Empire. It was turned into a mosque following the conquest of Istanbul in 1453. But in 1935 a cabinet decision had converted Hagia Sophia into a museum.

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