The AHEPAN Fall 2020 - 16

In Libya, Syria, Iraq, Russia and the energy fields in Eastern
Mediterranean, Turkey's agenda is constantly divergent with
the one of the Alliance. Furthermore, it has become extremely
vexing to the Alliance how Turkey has been blackmailing
approval of the military plans to defend Poland and the Baltic
countries against possible Russian aggression with its demand
for NATO to declare freedom-fighting Kurdish groups as "terrorists." The same hindrance has been practiced by Turkey
with NATO collaborations with other international stakeholders like Israel, UAE, etc. In a recent event in connection to
the illegal armament of Libya's GNA by Turkey, Turkish ships
threatened to open fire against a French ship that confronted
them, resulting in a clash of statements between Paris and
Ankara. Skepticism has given its place to open questioning
about Turkey's role within NATO.
13.	President Erdogan in the Arabic version of his statement for
Hagia Sophia said that "the resurrection of Hagia Sophia is
paving the road for the liberation of Al Aksa." This is a clear
threat against Israel since the Al Aksa Mosque is in the part of
Jerusalem controlled by Israel.
14.	Despite the sectarian differences and previous clashes around
Iraq and Syria, Iran and Turkey appear recently to increase
their level of collaboration in the Middle East on many different fronts. In Syria they both oppose the US end game, they
both fight Kurdish guerillas, seek actively to extend Islamic
influence in Africa, support Hamas and share a deep antipathy for Israel. Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad
Zarif went to Turkey on June 15 to ask Turkey's help to cope
with the trade sanctions and to offer support in Libya. Turkey
is also reported to be working together with the Islamic
Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), perceived by the US as a
terrorist group. Furthermore, a growing part of Turkish military officials share the sentiment that Turkey's side should
be with Iran and China and potentially Russia against the
western world.

2.	

3.	

4.	

What can the Western bloc do?
The Western world should pursue for Hagia Sophia:
1.	 Support for UNESCO, politically, legally, and techno-economically to examine in detail the following:
a.	 whether culturally, theologically, etc. the perceived projection of Hagia Sophia is affected by its conversion into
a mosque. That is, whether the character of the monument is compatible with operating it as a mosque.
b.	 how interventions for the conversion to a mosque are
potentially preventing visitors from authentically

16 | THE AHEPAN ยท Fall 2020	

5.	

discovering and receiving in its totality and depth what
Hagia Sophia has to offer as a World Heritage Site.
c.	 the precedent that has been created with the Hagia
Sophia of Trabzon, but also the destructions and the
mistreatment in the past of the Hagia Sophia of Istanbul
and potentially other monuments in Turkey, not currently protected that should come under the auspices of
UNESCO as well. For those cases, strict monitoring strategies could be put into place to push Turkey to preserve
those monuments and deliver them to their proper state
of operation
Impose sanctions on Turkey requesting the return of Hagia
Sophia either to the museum status either to the Ecumenical
Patriarchate, in addition to the opening of the Theological
School of Halki.
Force Turkey to uphold to its commitments to the UN charters of human rights and in the context of the reciprocity and
equality of religious rights of all Turkish citizens, enshrined in
the Turkish Constitution to allow to the remaining Christian
Turkish citizens of Constantinople, to exert their right to
prayer as well inside Hagia Sophia on certain occasions.
Remove as a symbolic gesture Turkish diplomat Volkan
Bozkir who was recently elected (sole candidate) to preside
over the landmark 75th session of the UN General Assembly,
which opens in September. It is hypocrisy and mockery to
elect an official to this position to the UN's security council when its country of origin has so blatantly disrespected
another UN branch, i.e. UNESCO on the topic of Hagia
Sophia. It is also against every political and moral sense that
a position like this is given to a country who threatens with
war (casus belli) another country (Greece) if it exerts certain
rights provided by international law like extending its territorial waters from six to 12 miles. It is also unheard of, a country
with active occupation forces as Turkey has in Cyprus, to be
given such a role. As an extension, all organizations under
the UN, NATO and EU should forbid Turkish officials to run
for any office, until they restore the monument and show in
practice change of policy on cultural, civil rights and international law issues.
EU on top of the sanctions should indefinitely halt discussions
for accession of Turkey until further notice.
Dr. Panagakos is a research engineer at Carnegie Mellon
University (CMU).

www.ahepa.org


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