Former Greek diplomat says Turkey will now face many internal problems

by Paul Antonopoulos

Former Greek Diplomat to Turkey, Leonidas Chrysanthopoulos, told Sputnik Hellas that the decision to turn Hagia Sophia into a mosque would lead to new problems in Turkey, especially domestically.

“[The] decision to convert Hagia Sophia from a museum to a mosque will create many internal problems in Turkey. It is the first time in the history of modern Turkey that a decree signed by Kemal Atatürk is annulled and that is a first step in the deconstruction of the founder of modern Turkey who is considered a demigod for the Turks,” experienced diplomat Leonidas Chrysanthos told Sputnik Hellas.

The reactions were sparked when the Council of State of Turkey gave the green light for the conversion of Hagia Sophia into a mosque.

Then, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, signed a presidential decree that turns Hagia Sophia into a mosque, allowing prayer inside it, while he himself pointed out that the place will be officially opened for Muslim prayer on July 24, 2020 .

“This decision has angered the Kemalists who may react, especially with what is left of the armed forces that are supporters of Kemalism,” said the former Consul General of Greece in Constantinople.

“The same decision will bring Erdoğan to rupture with the Kemalist establishment that has strong bases within the Turkish people who have been nurtured by the demigod Kemal. And that is where the problems of Turkey begins, which Greece should take advantage of,” he said.

“Efforts should be made for a possible expulsion of Turkey from UNESCO. It is recalled that Turkey and Spain established in 2008, within the framework of the UN, the Alliance of Cultures aimed at alleviating the differences between Christianity and Islam. With this decision, Erdoğan blows up this initiative in which [former Prime Minister Ahmet] Davutoğlu, who is now an enemy of the Turkish President, played a leading role. In consultation with Spain, Greece could assist in the abolition of this initiative, by forwarding a draft resolution to the UN General Assembly,” added Chrysanthopoulos when discussing the next steps that Greece must follow.

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At the same time, he commented on the Russian Orthodox Church’s support for preserving the monument:

“The condemnation of the act by the Moscow Patriarchate is also a support to the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew and thus opens small prospects for the restoration of relations that were severed due to the issue of the Ukrainian church,” he said.

“Finally, EU sanctions should be imposed on Turkey, such as the freezing of the Customs Union Agreement, for everything it does in the Eastern Mediterranean and the Aegean, because it is the only language that Ankara understands,” he concluded.