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Foreign Ministry Announcement on the state of Greek and Christian monuments in Turkey
It was with dismay that we learned that Greek and Christian monuments in Turkey are not receiving the care necessary for their protection.
Specifically, cases have recently come to light of systematic looting and digging up of graves at a Byzantine cemetery in the Çatalca region, near Istanbul, due to inadequate protection of the monument, despite the fact that it has been designated a protected archaeological site of the first degree.
A similar case is the tearing down of the walls of the Great Palace of Constantinople, in the Sultan Ahmed area, in order to build a hotel, despite the fact that this historical site has been designated a protected site of the first degree.
Moreover, the recent conversion of the historic Hagia Sophia basilica – which until recently operated as a museum – into a mosque, caused concern throughout the Christian world, which links the site closely with major moments in its history, including the first and seventh Ecumenical Synods.
We believe that the cultural monuments bequeathed by history and geography, regardless of their ethnic or religious identity, must receive protection and appropriate respect. Above all, this is a duty to future generations.
We hope that the Turkish authorities will take up these issues, proceeding to the necessary actions for the protection and preservation of the many Greek and Christian monuments within Turkish territory.