17 July 2020, 12:02
Moscow-Ankara relations not to worsen over changed Hagia Sophia status - Peskov
Moscow, July 17, Interfax - Moscow-Ankara relations will not worsen over the changed status of Hagia Sophia, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said in an interview with Avtoradio.
The radio suggested that the recent change of the Hagia Sophia status by the Turkish authorities might be used as a pretext for doing harm to Russia-Turkey relations one more time.
"No, I do not think that will happen. The official position of our state is that this is an internal affair of Turkey. That's for starters. Secondly, we are still hopeful that no matter what decision is made our Turkish partners will keep in mind Hagia Sophia's status as an object of the UNESCO's world cultural heritage," Peskov said.
Peskov said he hopes that the sacred meaning of the cathedral for many Orthodox Christians will be taken into account.
"What does that mean to take the sacred meaning into account? It means that Christians, our tourists who go there, have a chance to go inside. To speak mundanely," Peskov said.
Turkey has pledged "to preserve everything in the best possible form and to allow anyone who wishes to visit" the cathedral, he said.
"What's more, I can tell you that Hagia Sophia tickets are quite expensive. There'll be no tickets now, and admission will be free. Our tourists will benefit from that. At the same time, we respect the stance of our Patriarch as Orthodox believers," Peskov said.
He noted that this stance differs from the official stance of the country.