Hagia Sophia is a matter of Turkish sovereignty, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan stated once again to reporters on Friday.
He further added that he did not see any international reaction to the conversion of Hagia Sophia into a mosque. According to the Turkish President, the first prayers will be held on July 24 for 1,000-1,500 worshippers at a time.
Russia: Hagia Sophia is Turkey’s internal affair
Russia’s official position on the Hagia Sophia status change is that it constitutes an internal affair for Turkey, but Moscow believes the decision will benefit tourists, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said on Friday.
In an interview, Dmitry Peskov said people would now be able to visit the historic site for free, as opposed to buying “quite expensive tickets” when it operated as a museum.
“[Our] Turkish associates explained that everything will be maintained in the best possible way, and that everyone will be able to visit Hagia Sophia. In addition, I must say, there were quite expensive tickets for Hagia Sophia”, said Peskov.
“And now there will be no tickets, admission will be free. In this respect, this will benefit our tourists”, the Kremlin spokesman added.
He went on to add that the Russian government respects the position of the Patriarch of Moscow and All Rus’ on the issue, which differs from the position of the state.
The Kremlin spokesman said he is not expecting the Hagia Sophia issue to affect ties between Russia and Turkey, and praised the relationship between Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan, saying the two leaders share a similar work style.
“They meet, they are both responsible for their speeches, they are both in control of the situation, they are both able to make responsible and quick decisions, which they go on to implement”, Peskov said.
As he explained, such an approach was the key to finding solutions to difficult problems, “as was the case in Syria and in other situations”, Peskov concluded. /ibna