Foreign Minister Heiko Maas made the following remarks to the Rheinische Post newspaper on Hagia Sophia:
The conversion of Hagia Sophia into a mosque will do nothing to foster international understanding. We cannot understand this decision because the World Cultural Heritage status of this unique building is of importance far beyond Turkey. We need a constructive dialogue between Turkey and the European Union, and Turkey’s decision on Hagia Sophia was certainly not very helpful. Even without this additional conflict over a World Cultural Heritage site, there are a few issues hindering a forward-looking dialogue between the EU and Turkey at the current time. Other points of contention, such as Turkey’s drilling for gas off the coast of Crete and Cyprus, have to be resolved.
UNESCO will decide what impact the measures taken by Turkey will have on the World Cultural Heritage status. However, I hope that the status of Hagia Sophia isn’t jeopardised by developments in the weeks and months ahead.