Zovko calls on UNESCO and High Representative for measures against Turkey for changing the Hagia Sophia into a mosque

Brussels, 17 July 2020

Members of the European Parliament have sent a letter to the Director-General of UNESCO and European High Representative Josep Borrell to express their concerns about the conversion of the Hagia Sophia into a mosque. Željana Zovko, who co-signed the letter, said she deeply regrets the instrumentalisation of this monumental building of great cultural value. Together with her colleagues, she calls to take proper action in order to safeguard this World Heritage Site, to protect international agreements and the UNESCO framework and to uphold the core European values and principles.

The letter emphasised that with the inscription of the Hagia Sophia on the UNESCO World Heritage List as a museum, a number of legal commitments and obligations have to be followed. This includes that no modification can be made to the outstanding universal value of the property prior to notification to UNESCO and a possible examination by the World Heritage Committee. Zovko said that the public change of the outstanding universal value of Hagia Sophia can even result in delisting and losing this monument forever from the prestigious World Heritage List. “I call on UNESCO and the World Heritage Committee to react and seek responsibility for this unilateral action on the heritage that belongs to the entire world”, Zovko concluded

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