This Article was written on July 12th, but it was set to appear on May 29th for symbolic purposes. To view the article in Greek, click HERE
The Hagia Sofia (God’s Holy Wisdom, roughly translated from Greek) a Church that has been the symbol of Orthodoxy and Helenism for centuries in a City that used to be The City and is now just Istanbul, is, several years later, turned back into a Mosque.
Many have asked. Is this a show of force? Is this arrogance? An aggresive move of expansionism? Maybe it is a little bit of all the above. But what matters is that this is a direct insult to Orthodox Christianity and Helenism, as well as World Heritage and UNESCO
But, strangely enough, the insult is not the most important issue here. The most important issue is the reaction, or the lack of it, to be presice.
The US has its own troubles lately, so it has not even bothered with this (I cannot even begin to imagine the priorities of the current administration, I am not sure if they even have any). Europe has done absolutely nothing, well at least they did not send their heartfelt congratulations… Some mild statements and that is all. British and Austrian newspapers and sites have reported the issue, but the comments are mainly neutral. In Germany comments vary from neutral to triumphant (we should not forget the sizeable Turkish Minorityand its elective powers in Germany).
But, that is ok, right? Catholics and Protestants… What about the Orthodox countries, what do they have to say about his?
Well, apparently nothing…
Orthodox Russia, through President Putin himself no less, considers this an “Internal Affair of Turkey”. The rest Balkan-Orthodox countries (Serbia, Bulgaria etc) have not even bothered to officialy comment on the matter.
What about Greece? We have protested!
Let me put it simply…
For the turning of the symbol of Medieval Helenism and Religion into a mosque, we have done exactly what we do for the breaching of Greek airspace by a turkish fighter. And practically a little less, since we are sending planes to intercept these fighters…
The most important reaction to Turkey is the proposal of an “embargo” of Greek shipping to turkish shipyards (used a lot for repairs of Greek shipping) by Greek Ship owner Marinos. It is an important move and I congratulate him for the thought. But it is terribly small as a gesture.
Mr. Dendias, the Greek Minister of Foreign affairs, you should know better by now… When Turkey claims something by force, they consider it forever theirs. As Cyprus for confirmation if you do not believe me…
But how can Greece respond? Some are proposing to turn Kemal Atatourk’s House (in Thessaloniki) into a Museum of Memory for the Genocides. But I consider that a mistake for serveral reasons. First of all, Erdogan has been rejecting Atatourk in every step (It was Atatourk that turned Hagia Sofia into a Museum in the first place), why should we assist in that? But mainly… We should not respond to Erdogan by becoming him…
The best advice anyone can ever give you. Never stop into another’s level. They will win due to experience.
The Turkish Economy is currently unstable. Turkish action in Kurdistan and Libya (along with the new threats against Egypt) have weakend them diplomatically and have distanced them from several of their traditional allies. A move led by Greece (and assisted by Israel, which have recently been targeted by more statements from turkish officials) to expand on the isolation and add some financial sanctions against Turkey can go a long way.
It is also important to raise awareness. This article is a drop in the Ocean. What we need is a video about the History and importance of the Hagia Sofia as a symbol. We may also try to create a campaign of awareness to the Tourists visiting Greece, maybe even a larger awareness campaign. Greece spend millions (with good cause) for the campaign on Covid-19, do we really think the Hagia Sofia is not worth something similar?
But is there a Greek worthy of the title Statesman to do this?
There is a Greek Legend that the last Emperor, Emperor Constantine, did not die during the Fall of the city, but was taken to a cave and turned to stone, waiting for the city to return to Greek hands. It is a good thing this is a legend, because then we would see if a stone heart could break 567 years after the first fall of the city…
Nasos Mamalis, Economist