Hagia Sophia Turkey's internal matter: Top diplomat
Turkey respects thoughts, advice to protect Hagia Sophia, says foreign minister
Several countries, including Spain, agree that Hagia Sophia is Turkey's internal matter, the Turkish foreign minister said on Monday.
"Reopening of Hagia Sophia for worship is not a one-upmanship against any country or belief," Mevlut Cavusoglu said in a joint news conference with his Spanish counterpart Arancha Gonzalez Laya in the capital Ankara.
Cavusoglu said Turkey respects the thoughts and pieces of advice to protect Hagia Sophia which was added to the UNESCO World Heritage List in 1985.
Spanish Foreign Minister Laya said that Turkey's intention of observing UNESCO criteria regarding Hagia Sophia was praiseworthy, adding that they see Istanbul's architectural gem as a common heritage of all humanity.
Last Friday, the first prayers after an 86-year hiatus were held in the Hagia Sophia Mosque.
Hagia Sophia served as a church for 916 years until the conquest of Istanbul, and a mosque from 1453 to 1934 -- nearly 500 years -- and most recently as a museum.
It remains one of the most visited historic buildings in Turkey by domestic and international tourists.