Erdogan assures Greece of keeping Kariye Mosque “open to everyone.”
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Ankara, Türkiye: The President of Turkey, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, has assured Greece that the reopened Kariye Mosque will remain accessible to everyone despite the conversion from a church to a mosque.

Turkey opened the ancient Khora church, one of Istanbul’s most celebrated Byzantine buildings, to Muslim worshippers after it was used as a museum for more than 70 years.

This was the second major conversion of places of worship under President Tayyip Erdogan since the July 2020 conversion of Hagia Sophia Museum, originally a cathedral, into a mosque.

“Kariye Mosque will be opened to everyone with its new identity,” he said on Monday after a meeting with Greece’s Prime Minister, Kyriakos Mitsotakis.

Erdogan said he attached “great importance” to “protecting any monument that constitutes an item of UNESCO cultural heritage and making it accessible for the benefit of our nation and all humanity.”

He noted that his country was focused on developing concrete and constructive ideas for a “positive agenda.”

The Prime Minister of Greece, however, has urged Turkey to rescind its decision to convert the St. Saviour Church of Khora into a mosque.

“It was a development that caused sadness for us.

“We believe that religious freedom should be protected as stipulated in the UNESCO agreements and conditions,” he said.

The original Khora Church, which dates to the 5th century, was turned into a mosque by the Ottomans.

It became a museum in 1945, and Erdogan signed an order in August 2020 converting it back into a mosque.

It reopened on Monday, May 6, 2024, for visits and worship after meticulous restoration work that started in 2020.

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At the end of the meeting, both countries agreed to increase trade from $6 billion to $10 billion, set up a joint business council, and help each other in disaster and emergency management.

Erdogan visited Greece in December last year to forge a new era of friendship with Greece.

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