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Home arrow newsitems arrow CoE Ministers Committee Head calls to Save UNESCO World Heritage Sainte Sophie from change to Mosque

CoE Ministers Committee Head calls to Save UNESCO World Heritage Sainte Sophie from change to Mosque

Written by ACM
Пятница, 26 Июнь 2020

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*Strasbourg/Angelo Marcopolo/- PanEuropean, 47 Member States-strong (Russia included) CoE's President,  Alt. Foreign Minister Miltiades Varvitsiotis, launched a vibrant Call to Save UNESCO World Heritage Monument, the Historic, Over-Millenary Church of Sainte Sophie (alias "Agia Sophia"), currently a very popular Museum, from Recent Threats by the Turkish Government, including President Erdogan,  to turn it into a Mosque...  

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He was Replying to various MEPs' Questions, (including one from Turkey, on "Freedom of Religion"), at the Standing Committee of CoE's Parliamentary Assembly (PACE), where he has served for a Long Time as former MEP, and Recently Elected vice-President of its Biggest Political Group, that of ChristianDemocrats/EPP.

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- Currently, "there is a Great Concern for us, (Europe), and a Great Concern for the Global Community, ... about the Attempt to use Agia Sophia as a Mosque", he Denounced.

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- This goes, "particularly, within the framework of UNESCO", and includes a move "Not to Preserve its (Sainte Sophie's) Global Position as a World Heritage Monument", Varvitsiotis Warned.

 

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- However, currently, "that Symbolizes a Great Monument, Both for ...Christianity", (particularly "Orthodox", but Not Only: See Infra - During More than 1,5 Millenary, or about 1.700 Years, since the Initial Creation of that Church on 360, throughout the Christian-Greek Byzantine Empire's Civilisation), "and the Turkish Muslims, Since they started their Presence (sic !) in Istanbul/Constantinople", as he said, (i.e. During about 550 Years, Since the 1.453 Bloody Turkish Military Invasion and Occupation of Constantinople).

                                                                                     

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=> "So, it's very Important to SaveGuard such Monuments, and give them to the World Heritage", CoE's President-in-office Urged.
 

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- And this, Also, "as an humble Example of InterCultural coordination", he Modestly Added.


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In Fact, notoriously, Greek Byzantines Build that Monument with its Famous Huge Dome, Full of Light and Icons, (Near an Ancient Temple of Apollon), and Turks Surrounded it by some Minarets Outside, added a few Graves or Symbols of Conquest, and Systematicaly Erased or Covered up Icons.

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- Varvitsiotis, Earlier, had Warned that he would Not be Free to Answer MEPs' Questions "as a Foreign Minister of Greece", (that he was), since he had Now to "speak as a President of CoE's Committee of Ministers", according to its rules and procedures. (What he really did, Also, just Before the Religious Freedom Question, by Answering, with a very ..."Technical" and Neutral Language, anOther Question, Raised by the President of the EuroLeft Group of MEPs, Dutch Senator Tiny Cox, about 2 Dissident Politicians' Freedom of Expression Violations in Turkey, as found by ECHR, where they had been Prosecuted, Destituted, Condemned and Jailed, for some Simple Critical, but Peaceful Declarations)...

=> To the point that, PACE's New President, Liberal Belgian Senator, Rik Daems, smiling, then, Suggested that "CoE's Assembly should Vote for a New Additional Protocol to the ECHR, Protecting the Freedom of Expression of CoE's Committee of Ministers' President !"...

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+ Meanwhile, however, even USA's Ambassador at large for Religious Freedom, former Long-Time Senator Sam Brownback, (Appointed by US President Don Trump), Published at the Internet a Written Statement on "the Hagia Sophia", stressing that it "Holds Enormous Spiritual and Cultural Significance".

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>>> Therefore, "we (USA) Call on the Government of Turkey to Maintain it as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and to Maintain the Accessibility to All, in its current Status as a Museum".

Sainte Sophie has been Officially Declared as a "Museum" Already Since 1934, (i.e. During almost 87 Years now).

It Attracts "almost 3,4 Millions of Visitors, Annually", (according to "Wikipedia").

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- And it affects "Billions of Believers, of Different Faiths, around the World", wrote Today USA's Ambassador for Religious Freedom, Sam Brownback, (Comp. Supra).

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+ But, Meanwhile, a Russian MEP had formaly Raised a Question to Erdogan, at CoE's Assembly in Strasbourg, as early as since 2006, about whether the alleged Respect of Religious Freedom in Turkey would Allow for Christian People to become anew able to Celebrate the Divine Mass in Sainte Sophie Cathedral, as they used to do during Millenaries...

++ Already, the International Treaty of Sevres (1920), whose Centenary Anniversary is due to be Commemorated this August 2020, Drafted and Signed by the Winners of the 1st World War and Many Other Countries, had Explicitly Subordinated All "the Rights of the Turkish Government over Constantinople", to the "Faithfull Observation of the Provisions ... as regards the Protection of the Rights to Racial, Religious or Linguistic Minorities" :

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=> "In the event of Turkey Failing to" do so, "the Allied Powers expressely reserve(d) the right to Modify the ... provisions, and Turkey hereby agree(d) to accept Any Dispositions which May be Taken" (on Constantinople's fate) !

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- But, on the Contrary, inter alia, f.ex., when Christian Catholic Pope Benedict on 2005, Followed by German Chancellor Angie Merkel, Later-on, made Official Visits to Turkey, Visiting also Constantinople and Sainte Sophie, various Press Articles and Politicians' Statements had Created an UnForgetable Atmosphere of ...Terror, threatening with "Warnings" on "the Consequences" that Risked to have Any Move which Might be Interpreted as a ...Christian Religious "Prayer" inside Agia Sophia Cathedral...

=> Pope Benedict bypassed that with an open Gesture, which could be Interpreted as a Joint Prayer, inside the Neighbouring "Blue Mosque", while Chancellor Merkel Artfuly used a remarked Long and Deep Look Up towards the Sky, at Agia Sophia, while Crossing Hands, which might be Interpreted, by outward observers, in various ways...

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- However, "in 2015, in Retaliation for the Acknowledgment, by (Christian Catholic) Pope Francis, of the Armenian Genocide, the Mufti of Ankara, Mefail Hızlı, (reportedly) stated that ...the Conversion of Hagia Sophia into a Mosque will be Accelerated".     

=> In Consequence, "On 1 July 2016, Muslim Prayers were (Openly) held again in the Hagia Sophia for the First time in 85 Years", according to "Wikipedia". "On November" 2016, a "Turkish NGO ... filed a Lawsuit for Converting the Museum into a Mosque", (which was Stoped at a Court). "On 13 May 2017, a Large Group o People, ... in front of Hagia Sophia ...Prayed ...with a Call for the Reconversion ...into a Mosque". "On 21 June 2017, the (State-Controlled) Direction of Religious Affairs (Diyanet) organized ...the Recitation of the Quran and Prayers in Hagia Sofia", "Broadcast live by State-run Television TRT". "On 31 March 2018 Turkish president ...Erdoğan recited the 1st Verse of the Quran in the Hagia Sophia, dedicating the Prayer ...Especially (to) Istanbul's Conqueror" (sic !). "In March 2019 Erdoğan said that he will Change the status of Hagia Sophia, from a Museum to a Mosque,[69] adding that it was a "very big Mistake" to turn it into a Museum".    He says that it's "a Demand of the Turkish People", and that he'd "Wait until the (Local) Elections' End". In 2020, Turkey's Government is set to celebrate the 567th Anniversary of the Ottoman Conquest of Istanbul, with an Islamic Prayer in Hagia Sophia"  ...as part of conquest festival," Turkish president ...Erdoğan said. In May 2020, during the Anniversary events, passages from the Quran was read in the Hagia Sophia. In June, 2020 the head of the Turkey’s Religious Affairs Directorate (Diyanet) said that "we would be very happy to Open Hagia Sophia for Worship", and ..."we will provide our Religious Services, as we do in all our Mosques”.

But, meanwhile, the Opposition Party CHP, which Won the Latest Elections at Istanbul/Constantinople is, reportedly, Against that, and its MPs Prefer for Agia Sophia to Remain a Museum...

So that, (withOut Illusions), the New Mayor of Istanbul/Constantinople, Imamoglou, had, apparently, made a quite Better Impression, Recently in Strasbourg, when he had been Heard by CoE's CLRAE.

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It's true that Both Istanbul/Constantinople and Smyrne/Izmir Regions, are very Often Opposed, Socio-Politically, to the Rest of Turkey, in Most Elections, during Many Years, to the point that they have routinely Become Familiar, Distinct Opposition "Hotspots" in the Political MAPs formed After National or Regional/Local Elections...

It's Always them, at the West, and the Kurdish Regions, at the East, which are Distinguished from the Rest.

GeoPolitically, mutatis-mutandis, it really looks almost Like the International Sevres' Treaty MAP, (which had Notoriously preserved "Special" Status for Both these Regions) !

Naturally, this does Not Necessarily Mean that Imamoglou, and/or Someone Else around Istanbul/Constantinople, might have Already Become somewhat Similar to the Spanish "Autonomist" MEP Puigdemon, from Catalonia's Barcelona...

-  However, it's also true that, in Paris, still exists, (Between Elysee Palace and Saint Lazare Railway Station), a landmark, Historic "Europe Square",  surrounded by many Streets with the Names of all European Capital Cities, including Moscow and even Constantinople.

Not Ankara : Obviously, Because it's Not Located inside Europe, But in Asia !

 

(../..)

 

("Draft-News")

 

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    Before the end of 2009, France and Germany will take strong initiatives to open "new Horizons" needed by Europe and the World, going well beyond the current Crisis' management, anounced French President Nicolas Sarkozy and German Chancellor Angie Merkel, reassuring that both a judgement on Lisbon Treaty by nearby Karlsruhe German Federal Court, and the forthcoming National Elections in Germany would confirm their capacity to act.    

They were replying to Press questions in Berlin, after key-regional elections on Sunday, where Merkel's ChristianDemocratic party kept everywhere a strong 1st and won the possibility to forge a New Majority with Liberals at the largest of 3 Landers : Saxony (4 millions inhabitants), while its main competitor, the Socialdemocrat party fell to unprecedented lows : Tackled by the small "Linke" (left) party in Saarland (1 million inhabitants), it became even smaller than it in Saxony and Thuringen (3 million inhabitants), where SPD arrived only third. While its usual partners, the "Greens" also fell down, contrary to CDU's new partners, the FDP Liberals, who go up.

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    - "At any case, at the end of the year (2009), if things go as scheduled, we shall take strong initiatives, showing that Europe needs a Franco-German axis, as well as the World, even if it never excludes other" countries to join, replied Sarkozy to a question if France and Germany will revive the "European dream", by "relauncing the EU motor" for the Future, with actions going further than the mere management of the global crisis, (as it was done fex. in the Past with the creation of the "Euro" Monetary zone, etc).

    - "I am convinced that the Franco-German friendship must be constantly nourished by New Projects", he added."There are many areas of cooperation where we intend to take, very soon, some Franco-German initiatives, which will allow to open more Horizons" to the EU, Sarkozy stressed.

    But if "we don't speak about that now, it's only in order to avoid interfering in important elections coming in Germany", he observed. However, "we have already started to consider the Future with the (German) Chancellor, and what we can do in order to honour our predecessors". "We are already speaking about that, and we are preparing things". "I am working very well together with Mrs Merkel, and I wish that it goes on", Sarkozy concluded.

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    - "It's important for EU's credibility that France and Germany advance forward together", stressed Merkel from the outset. "Don't worry about Germany's capacity to undertake initiatives" with France, she added. "France and Germany will be perfectly able to make proposals" for the EU.

    -  "After-crisis" plans must be prepared, meanwhile, with measures "advancing progressively", Merkel anounced. And, for the short term, we must deal also with EU Citizens' dismay since they feel that it's a Scandal for some in the Financial Markets to be paid with excessive "Bonuses", etc, she agreed with Sarkozy.

    - "Abuses in financial markets must stop", stressed also Sarkozy. Backing Merkel's announcement that France and Germany call for an EU meeting to forge "a crystal-clear European position" in view of the G-14 Summit at Pittsburg, he warned that "everyone will have to undertake his responsibilities, in front of World's Public Opinion. particularly those who don't want to make the same effort of regulation as France and Germany".

    Moreover, "Global Trade cannot be correctly dealt, without taking into account also Environmental and Social rules", Sarkozy added, referring to recently expressed positions against Unfair Competition via Environmental and/or Social Dumping, (See earlier "EuroFora"'s publications).

    Such moves are obviously linked to the need to ensure at least an elementary respect for Human Rights by Third Countries, (f.ex. exploitation of Children's work, etc) in order to avoid, precisely, any such Social Dumping.

    - "EU has Values, protecting Human Rights and Human Dignity", and "it cannot close its eyes" in front of grave violations, particularly "Torture and/or killings", added, indeed, Sarkozy.

    Thus, "the time comes, where decisions must be taken". But, in case of "Sanctions", "all International opinion should be convinced of the need to take action", he observed.

    Expressed on the occasion of recent developments in Iran, the same principles should logically apply also to other similar cases, including fex. that of Hundreds of ECHR judgements' condemning f;ex. Turkey for grave crimes, (as Torture, brutal Killings, Enforced "Disappearances", Destruction of Family Homes, harassments and oppressive violations of Freedom of Speech, etc).

    Meanwhile, questioned on (EU Commission's chair)  Barroso's bid to succeed himself for a second mandate, they both expressed a "wish" or a "feeling" that "EU Parliament"'s various political Groups might fix a date for decisions "during September". However, is he is endorsed before the entry into force of the Lisbon Treaty, it will be legally necessary to re-vote anew for a full term of office afterwards, according to EU Legal Experts, revealed recently in Strasbourg the experienced former President of EU Parliament's Constitutional Committee, German Socialist MEP Jo Leinen. And Germany will not vote for Lisbon Treaty's ratification but only "on September 8 and 18", revealed Merkel, ( i.e. after EU Parliament's plenary session in Strasbourg).

    - Therefore, "for EU Commissioners' appointment, it's too early yet, because we must wait for the ratification of Lisbon Treaty" by all 27 EU Member countries, including naturally Ireland's Referendum on early October, said to "EuroFora" the influential President of EU Parliament's largest group of MEPs, Joseph Daul, expressing, however, the hope that a controversial deal with the head of the Socialist Group of MEPs, Martin Schultz of Germany, might hold for Barroso alone, at a forthcoming vote due to fix the Strasbourg plenary's Agenda.

    But MEPs reportedly just "postponed" for 1 week all their previously scheduled group meetings (See : http://www.euractiv.com/en/future-eu/barroso-unveil-summer-homework-week/article-184825 );

    However, while the choice of a new EU Commission's President by EU Parliament is supposed, according to many MEPs' wish, take place according to EU policy issues, paradoxically, this would mean that Barroso's bid would pass before even the anouncement of France and Germany's "initiatives" for EU's "new Horizons"...

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