The interim secretary-general of the World Council of Churches, Ioan Sauca, has penned a letter to President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan to express his “grief and dismay” over Turkey's decision to change the status of Istanbul's landmark Hagia Sophia from a museum to a mosque. "I am obliged to convey to you the grief and dismay of the World Council of Churches – and of its 350 member churches in more than 110 countries, representing more than half a billion Christians around the world – at the step you have just taken," Sauca said.
Pope Francis said on July 12 he was hurt by Turkey's decision to make Istanbul's Hagia Sophia museum a mosque, the latest religious leader to condemn the move.
Joe Biden, the former U.S. vice president who is now the Democratic presidential nominee, has called on Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan to reverse the decision on Hagia Sophia, urging him to “instead keep this treasured place in its current status as a museum, ensuring equal access for all.”
Palestinian Islamist group Hamas has expressed its support for the Turkish government's decision to convert Istanbul's iconic Hagia Sophia into a mosque. "Opening of Hagia Sophia to prayer is a proud moment for all Muslims," said Hamas in a written statement.
Turkey's conversion of iconic Hagia Sophia into a mosque has prompted criticism in the international arena. The United States, the European Union, Greece, UNESCO and Russian Orthodox Church were among those to express concern about Ankara's move.
The recent introduction of the Turkish Lira in towns of northern Syrian constitutes the final step in an assimilation policy enforced by Ankara in the region, journalist and Middle East expert Bereket Kar said. Reports have shown that cash and coins were brought in through the Turkish postal service (PTT).
The European Parliament held a debate entitled “Stability and Security in the Mediterranean and the negative role of Turkey” on July 9. Several MEPs called for a complete end to accessions talks with Turkey, saying the country should no longer receive payments from the EU budget as part of pre-accession support.
Iraqi President Barham Salih said on July 8 that neighboring Turkey must suspend its recent offensive against alleged Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) positions in the Iraqi Kurdistan Region and disputed territories of Iraq. Salih “reiterated that Turkey has to suspend its military violations on the Iraqi soil."
Turkey has voiced discontent with the United States' decision to provide International Military Education and Training (IMET) to Greek Cypriot soldiers in accordance with the 2020 fiscal year appropriations act. "This and similar steps do not contribute to the efforts towards the settlement of the Cyprus issue, but on the contrary, lead to strengthening the intransigent attitude of the Greek Cypriot side," the Turkish Foreign Ministry said.
Four U.S. senators have penned a letter to Defense Secretary Mark Esper saying that Turkey's expulsion from the F-35 supply chain needs to be expedited, regardless of what the cost is. They said that the Defense Department's delay regarding the matter “has undermined the effectiveness of our clear message to the Turks.”
Russia and Turkey are working on an immediate ceasefire agreement for the conflict in Libya, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on July 8. Lavrov said LNA is ready to sign a ceasefire document and hopes that Turkey will manage to convince the country's internationally recognised GNA to do the same.
Turkey tested Russian-made S-400 air defense systems on U.S.-made F-16 fighter jets in November 2019, a source close to the Turkish defense industry told TASS on July 7. "Yes, such trials have indeed taken place last November," the source told TASS when asked to comment on several media reports.
Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu has said that Ankara would be forced to respond to the European Union if the bloc adopts additional measures against Turkey. "We see that Turkey will be on the agenda of the Commission meeting and summit because of a number of countries, including France. Adopting decisions against Turkey won't solve problems, but deepen them," he said.
Patriarch Kirill, the leader of Russia's Orthodox Church, said on July 6 that calls to convert Istanbul's Hagia Sophia into a mosque posed a threat to Christianity. "A threat against Hagia Sophia is a threat to all of Christian civilization, meaning [a threat to] our spirituality and history," Patriarch Kirill said in a statement.
Warplanes struck overnight at an airbase that was recently recaptured by Libya's internationally recognized government from eastern forces with help from Turkey, a military source with the eastern forces and a resident nearby said. A resident at the nearby town of Zintan said explosions were heard from the direction of the base.