Greece on July 14 described Turkey's decision to convert the Hagia Sophia in Istanbul to a mosque as "unnecessary and petty" and called for tougher European Union action over Ankara's gas exploration activities in the Mediterranean Sea.Turkey rejects EU condemnation on Hagia Sophia
TurkishPresident Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's move to switch the status of HagiaSophia to a mosque has struck a raw nerve with many Greeks, whorevere the sixth century building as a focal point of their OrthodoxChristian faith.
Greece,whose relations with Turkey are fraught with historical tensions,says the matter is not a bilateral dispute.
"Withthis backward action, Turkey is opting to sever links with westernworld and its values," Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakissaid.
"Confronted with this unnecessary, petty initiative from Turkey, Greece is considering its response at all levels," Mitsotakis said, in a reference to Hagia Sophia.Converting Hagia Sophia into mosque 'is continuation of our July 15 revival'
Turke'sCouncil of State – the country's highest administrative court –ruled last week that Hagia Sophia's conversion to a museum in 1934was unlawful. Declaring the building a mosque, Erdoğan said prayerswould be held there within two weeks, in a move that drewinternational criticism.
Relationsbetween Greece and Turkey are often tense over Cyprus, dividedbetween its Greek and Turkish Cypriot populations.
Movesby the island's Greek Cypriot-led government to explore for offshorenatural gas have been countered by Turkish attempts at gasexploration in the same areas.
"Europeshould once and for all draft a specific list of actions, andsanctions against a country which seeks to be a regionaltroublemaker, and which is evolving into a threat to the stability ofthe whole south-east Mediterranean region," Mitsotakis said.