The World Heritage Committee under the recommendation of UNESCO will review the status of Hagia Sophia which has been turned into a mosque after its declaration as an ancient monument by President Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey.
This announcement was made on Friday July 10, 2020, after a Turkish court ruled that the conversion of Hagia Sophia, which is a Sixth-century building to a museum in 1934, was illegal.
UNESCO said in a statement that “Countries must notify the United Nation’s cultural body of any changes in the status of a site, triggering a review by its World Heritage Committee if need be.”
It added that it is regrettable that the Turkish decision was not the subject of dialogue nor notification beforehand.
“UNESCO calls on the Turkish authorities to open a dialogue without delay in order to avoid a step back from the universal value of this exceptional heritage whose preservation will be reviewed by the World Heritage Committee in its next session,” it added.
The United States, Russia, Greece, and Christian church leaders had urged Turkey to maintain Hagia Sophia’s status as a museum.