Turkey held confidential meeting with Greece after Hagia Sophia decision – Turkish minister

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Turkey held a undisclosed trilateral meeting with Greece and Germany following the reconversion of Istanbul´s Hagia Sophia into a mosque, Hürriyet newspaper reported on Tuesday, citing Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu.

Greek newspaper Kathimerini said the trilateral meeting, brokered by Germany, was held following the meeting by the EU Foreign Affairs Council on Monday as part of an effort to preserve the channels of communication between Athens and Ankara.

EU foreign ministers met on Monday to discuss the bloc’s deteriorating relations with Turkey.

Greece on Tuesday described Turkey’s decision to convert the Hagia Sophia in Istanbul to a mosque as “unnecessary and petty” and called for tougher European Union action over Ankara’s gas exploration activities in the Mediterranean.

A Turkish court on Friday annulled a 1934 presidential decree ruling the conversion of the city’s historic Hagia Sophia back into a mosque.

The move to reconvert the structure – built as a Greek Orthodox cathedral in the 6th century before becoming a mosque following the 1453 Ottoman conquest of Istanbul – has been met with international condemnation.

Athens maintains the issue is no longer a bilateral dispute.

“With this backward action, Turkey is opting to sever links with western world and its values,” Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said.

Ahval

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