“Turkey must finally decide what its broader geopolitical goal will be,” said Margaritis Schinas, the European Commission’s vice-president and Commissioner for the promotion of the European way of life, during the presentation of the new EU strategy for the Security Union on Friday.
Asked about the first Muslim prayer in Hagia Sophia, Schinas acknowledged that “as a Greek, I feel angry. It is a difficult day, and I’m sure it is not just me. What is happening today in Hagia Sophia is the wrong beginning.”
The Vice President of the European Commission pointed out that “Turkey must finally decide what its broader geopolitical goal will be and with whom exactly it wants to go in the future. If it wants to go with Europe, if it wants to continue on this path of alignment with our principles and our values.”
According to reports from Istanbul, thousands of Muslims on Friday flocked to of Hagia Sophia, which had had the status of a museum since the 1930s, for the first day of Islamic prayers since its reconversion into a mosque by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
The edifice had served as a Christian basilica and the seat of all Eastern Christianity for almost one thousand years before the city of Constantinople fell to the Ottoman Turks in 1453.
Today’s prayers began with President Erdogan reading from the Quran, after which the Muslim call to prayer was heard from the four minarets around the monument.
Due to the pandemic, only about 1,000 people were allowed into the interior of the enormous building, but many more people formed crowds outside, many of them failing to observe safety measures such as social distancing and masks.
With information from AMNA