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UNESCO has not yet received the necessary guarantees from Turkey to preserve Hagia Sophia


UNESCO has not yet received the necessary guarantees from Turkey to preserve Hagia Sophia
The issue of changing the status of the cathedral will be considered at the next session of the World Heritage Committee


The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) still has not received the necessary guarantees from Turkey on the preservation of the Hagia Sophia against the background of the change of its status from a museum to a mosque. This was reported to a TASS correspondent on Friday at the organization's press service.

"We have not received the necessary information in full. The issue of access to the temple is just one of many, including the preservation of the integrity of structures, elements of interior decoration, management methods, and others," the agency's interlocutor explained. He added that the organization will continue to make every effort to collect as much information as possible regarding the preservation of the cultural site.

The issue of changing the status of the cathedral will be considered at the next session of the World Heritage Committee, which includes representatives of 21 countries, including Russia. The event was originally scheduled to be held in Fuzhou, China, by the end of 2020. However, the exact date in the press service promises to be announced later, "depending on the circumstances, especially as the situation with the COVID-19 pandemic changes."

"UNESCO has already expressed its deep regret at the decision of the Turkish authorities to change the status of Hagia Sophia without preliminary discussion. We reiterate our concern about the possible impact of this decision on the universal value of the site and reiterate our call to immediately start a dialogue," the press service of a response to a request to comment on the first prayer since 1934, held within the walls of the cathedral on Friday morning.

Earlier, Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan, who took part in Friday prayer, said that the country's Ministry of Culture and Tourism will carry out restoration work in the Hagia Sophia "inside and outside." What exactly they will consist of, he did not specify. He noted that upon completion of the restoration, Turkey "will receive a more significant Hagia Sophia." In addition, the Turkish leader pointed out that the resumption of prayers in the cathedral "is an event of historical significance," and "Hagia Sophia has finally returned to its original" status.

On July 10, the Turkish State Council canceled a government decree granting the status of a museum to Hagia Sophia. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan signed a decree according to which Muslim worship will resume in Hagia Sophia. A number of local Christian churches, including the Russian Orthodox Church, expressed regret over the decision. The same reaction followed from UNESCO.

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