Saturday, July 18, 2020
The Cooperation Protocol on Protection, Development, Promotion and Management Activities to be Carried out at the Great Hagia Sophia Mosque has been signed by the Minister of Culture and Tourism Mehmet Nuri Ersoy and the President of Religious Affairs Prof. Dr. Ali Erbaş
The Cooperation Protocol on Protection, Development, Promotion and Management Activities to be Carried out at the Great Hagia Sophia Mosque has been signed by the Minister of Culture and Tourism Mehmet Nuri Ersoy and the President of Religious Affairs Prof. Dr. Ali Erbaş.
Speaking at the signing ceremony which was held at the Conference Hall of the High Board of Religious Affairs, at the beginning of his speech, the President of Religious Affairs Erbaş expressed his condolences for the police officers who were martyred in the scout plane in Van province, Gevaş county of Turkey and for the special operations police who were martyred in the terrorist operation conducted in Siirt province, Pervari county of Turkey and said, ‘’May Allah’s mercy be upon them, I wish that the wounded are going to gain their health back soon. Condolences to their families, gunmates and our nation. We are in deep sadness. I wish from Allah that such accidents will not happen again from now on.”
President Erbaş stated that they signed an important protocol and used the following expressions, “Today we are going to sign this protocol which, I believe, will be highly beneficial for the following services; the protocol is going to be signed between the Ministry of Culture and Tourism and the Presidency of Religious Affairs, for the Ministry, our esteemed Minister of Culture and Tourism Mister Mehmet Nuri Ersoy is going to put his signature.”
Stating that Hagia Sophia has a history of one thousand and five hundred years and is one of the most important cultural heritage of humanity, President Erbaş noted that the Hagia Sophia served as a mosque for 481 years as of the year 1453 and continued his words as follows,
“If Allah permits, it will continue to serve Muslims as a place of worship by turning back to its original status as a mosque beginning from this 24th of July, as well as serving to all humanity regardless of any faith, sect, or racial discrimination. Because the Hagia Sophia is a highly important heritage from which people of all faiths can benefit and all people can learn something from its architectural structure, its history, and its services have given so far. It is our responsibility to protect this heritage. Answers to the questions of how we are going to protect this heritage of humanity in the best way together with our Ministry of Culture, the General Directorate of Foundations within the body of Ministry of Culture, the General Directorate of Museums, and the Presidency of Religious Affairs and what is going to be our contribution to serve humanity in higher quality and with more qualified service are what we reveal here with this protocol, we are also making a distribution of tasks in order to achieve the objectives set with the protocol.”
Expressing that then Hagia Sophia is going to host visitors more than ever, President Erbaş continued, “I believe that not only from our country but also from all places of the world millions of people are going to visit the Hagia Sophia Mosque both for establishing prayer and visiting this historical place. We are going to try to fulfil our duty with our services of the best quality in the most beautiful way. May the Almighty Allah help us in these activities which we are going to carry out. I ask from the Almighty Allah that may He ensure that this protocol which we are going to sign be favorable for us.”
The Minister of Culture and Tourism Mehmet Nuri Ersoy
The Minister of Culture and Tourism Mehmet Nuri Ersoy also asked for Allah’s mercy on the martyrs and expressed his condolences to the relatives of the martyrs of the scout plane due to the plane crash in Van province.
Expressing the point that everyone may state an opinion on re-opening of Hagia Sophia Mosque for worship with the decision of the Council of State and with the decree signed by the President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, Mehmet Nuri Ersoy said, “However, no one is in a higher status than this decision which was made by an independent judicial body and was welcomed by our nation.”
Pointing out the struggle of Turkish nation for carrying the Hagia Sophia safely and without any harm to today, Mehmet Nuri Ersoy used the following expressions, “The fact that Hagia Sophia stands firmly and is in a functional status today and that it is a part of the UNESCO’s world heritage list with its cultural, spiritual, and historical richness is achieved thanks to the Turkish nation which has owned the Hagia Sophia Mosque as a valuable custody for 567 years and has protected it whenever it is needed by sacrificing its own life. History has witnessed all the disrespect against this excellent place of worship from the Crusader army to the armies of the Allied Powers which occupied Istanbul in the 20th century, the damage given by them to Hagia Sophia is going to be remembered as a huge shame.”
Emphasizing the point that no one should doubt that the Hagia Sophia Mosque is going to be protected carefully Mehmet Nuri Ersoy continued his words as follows, “Just like we have done until this day, we are going to protect the universal values, authenticity, and integrity of the Hagia Sophia, which cover the tangible and intangible qualifications of it, from now on by giving it the utmost care altogether. First of all, it is a requirement of our national and spiritual values and is our duty of loyalty for our past. Moreover, it is a requirement of our sensitivity and sincerity which Turkey shows all the time for the principles of the protection of the cultural heritage.”
Uttering that the main principles for protection of the Hagia Sophia Mosque have been determined and the inter-organizational distribution of tasks has been made with this protocol, Mehmet Nuri Ersoy continued his words as follows,
“Once again it is ensured with an official document that the historical, cultural, social, spiritual, and aesthetic values of the Mosque are going to be protected within the framework of the international conventions and our internal legislation. Of course, the religious services to be given at the Hagia Sophia are going to be carried out by the Presidency of Religious Affairs. As it was in the past, we, the Ministry of Culture and Tourism, are going to perform the activities of restoration, conservation, and protection. There is nothing new about this point.”
Expressing that the Hagia Sophia Mosque is going to be visited free of charge by domestic and foreign tourists, Mehmet Nuri Ersoy noted that the restoration budgets reserved for the Hagia Sophia has been increased a few times, that the Ministry of Culture and Tourism accelerated the restoration works at the Mosque in high budgets with the support of the General Directorate of Foundations.
Mehmet Nuri Ersoy notified every one of the fact that the land title building which is located on Sultanahmed Square has been allocated for the use of the Ministry of Culture and Tourism with the instruction given by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and said, “We are going to start to exhibit our several treasury values which are included in the inventory of our Ministry such as the icons and church properties collection which consists of 1359 items, the Islamic period collection, tomb properties collection, stone works collection, and coins collection there.”
Mehmet Nuri Ersoy expressed his wishes that this protocol is going to be a favorable one for our county and nation.
Minister of Culture and Tourism Mehmet Nuri Ersoy and President of Religious Affairs Ali Erbaş undersigned the protocol after ending their speeches.