The diplomatic spat between Greece and Turkey, prompted by Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Bulent Arinc suggesting last week that he would like to see Hagia Sophia become a mosque, continued on Wednesday with Ankara saying it had “nothing to learn from Greece about religious freedoms.”
Athens had reacted strongly to Arinc’s comment and Turkey’s Foreign Ministry responded in equally blunt terms to criticism from Greece. “Turkey has always paid utmost attention to the sanctity of places of worship,” it said. “On the other hand, negligence of Ottoman places of worship and cultural monuments in Greece is widely known. Athens is the only European capital said to be hosting a Muslim community numbering hundreds of thousands without a mosque open for worship.”
Greek diplomatic sources said Athens would consider whether it would respond as it is wary of Turkey bringing non-bilateral issues into discussions between the two countries.