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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

Автор ACM
Friday, 26 June 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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Former "Green-Red" German government's Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer's job at the controversial Turkish pipeline "Nabucco" was denounced as "not proper", "very bad", and "incompatible with Democracy", by the new President of EU Parliament's EuroLeft Group, German Lothar Bisky, replying to an "EuroFora" question.

For once, criticism of Joschka Fischer's doings with Turkey affecting Europe, didn't come only from the Center-Right of the political spectrum, but even from his Left side : The experienced Bisky, who has been chairing all over 1993-2009 the PDS - Die Linke party :  

- "Former Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer got involved in dealings with oil-gaz business in a foreign country, Turkey, and its controversial Nabucco pipeline. This raises questions about Democracy, also because of the well known problems of Human Rights violations in that country. Do you thing that this might be abused in order to cover up and close EU's eyes on Human Rights violations ?", "EuroFora" asked Bisky.

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- "Nabucco pipeline is (only) at the planning stage". And "there are some difficulties",  he observed from the start. But "'I don't want to get into the details of Nabucco pipeline, because I don't think that there is any point for it at the moment".
 
At any case,  "we  (EU Parliament's EuroLeft Group) strongly believe that Politicians should not get involved in the Energy Business, and all these commercial transactions", President Bisky declared on the Joschka Fiischer's affair.

- "We feel that it's something that shouldn't be done. It's not proper !"           

- "We don't think that it's compatible with Democracy either, and it gets politics into a very Bad track", Bisky went on to denounce.
                                                                                                                                                                        
- "EuroLeft  and "Die Linke" always spoke against that, saying that politicians should not get directly into the arms of private enterprises"

- "It is pretty bad if a former Minister takes a job f.ex. in a major Energy producer. So, it's an issue if a Minister who may have seen excellent opportunities, subsequently gets personally grasp of them, in very serious parts of the economy, once he has given up his (Government) job."

- "It doesn't really make politics in general look any better'", Bisky concluded.

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Earlier, this week in Strasbourg, other Journalists had also raised critical questions on former Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer's involvement in the conroversial Turkish Nabucco pipeline to the President of his own EuroParty : Kohn-Bendit of the "Greens", who, contrary to Bisky, tried to find excuses for Fischer, while criticizing his long-time partner, Schroeder for having done a similar move :

- "Shroeder was chancellor", and he "negociated" with "Russians", who gave him a job only "3 Months" after he resigned from the Government. While "Joschka Fischer", on the contrary, got a job with the controversial Turkish Nabucco pipeline only "4 Years after" he left the Government. "He didn't negociate Nabucco", so I have "no objection", Kohn Bendit claimed.

But, many Facts indicate the contrary :

Joschka Fischer was Foreign Minister in Germany from 1999 up to 2005 : I.e. from the year that EU took the controversial decision to give Turkey a "Candidate" status, until he year it started controversial "accession negotiations, (later declared "open-ended" after Sarkozy-Merkel's arrival from 2005-2007).

During that period was prepared the controversial so-called "Annan" Plan (in fact, drafted by others and attributed afterwards to the former UN SG) on Cyprus, which failed after a Popular Referendum said "No" on 2004 with a large Majoriy of 3/4 : 75%. Mainly because it was criticized for making too much concessions to the Turkish side :  Particularly by restricting Greek Cypriot Refugees' Human Right to return to their ancestral Land and/or get restitution of their Familiy Homes and private properties, usurpated by Ankara's Army since the 1974 militay invasion and continuing occupation of the northern part of Cyprus. And by weakening the Central Government, leaving to 2 "constituent States" so much powers and separate interests that more conflicts appeared inevitable, provoking the danger of a break-down in the foreseable future, with more crisis, troubles, perhaps bloodshed, etc., instead of creating an harmoniously integrated, really one federal State.

The controversial Plan was finalized on March-April 2004 at Burgenstock (Switzerland), curiously in the presence of an Envoy by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Germany, then governed by Joschka Fischer, but in the absence of a French and not even an European Union's Envoy, contrary to what was usually practiced on similar occasions in Switzerland (fex. in 1997 at Montreux, in 2000 at Geneva, etc).

Turkey notoriously exploited the failure of the "Annan" Plan in order to convince the EU to decide to start accession Negotiations on December 2004. This provoked an unprecedented series of Institutional Crisis inside the EU, shortly afterwards, when French and Dutch People rejected, 2 popular EuroReferenda by a majority "'No" vote to the EU Constitutional Treaty on 2005, aggraveted in 2004 a Majority Abstention to EU Elections, etc., followed by the recent Irish "No", etc.

"Nabucco" Gas pipeline was notoriously planned since ..2002. It follows an even earlier idea, for an Oil pipeline Baku-Ceyhun, which started to be prepared on 1999-2001 and was meanwhile recently completed.  

So, facts indicate that what is now at stake is based on decisions made during Joschka Fischer's term as former Foreign Minister, closely interested in Turkey's controversial EU-bid.

To the point that he now practically ...switched jobs with a poliician from Turkey, (the State which pays today openly Joschka Fischer), Mr. Ozdemir, who came earlier in Germany, got fast the nationality, and became EiuroMP in a few years, continuing now as head of the "Greens" in Germany, i.e. in Joschka's former job !...

Such astonishing facts risk, unfotunately, to give to German politician Lothar Bisky's criticism of  representative Democracy a topical meaning :

 - "We (EuroLeft Group) think that what is really at stake is Democracy. It's not only about Gas Pipelines or Energy sources", President Lothar Bisky went on to add in his reply to "EuroFora"'s question on Joscka Fischer's personal interests in the controversial Turkish "Nabuco" pipeline.

Such facts, "make People get more distance from Politics. ...People had had enough, and they are fed up !".

- "That's why we (EuroParliament's "EuroLeft" Group) want to strengthen Direct Democracy in Europe. Citizens should be involved in the (EU) Decision-making. In the end of the day, it's not going to help anyone if Politicians are always taking decisions, without involving Citizens. We want to give a voice to the People of Europe. They've got to have their say in the decisions that are taken. That's one of our absolutely fixed and steadfast views. We want more Direct Democracy in Europe. That's how it can become more effective and stronger", he concluded.

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