Mitsotakis talks with UNESCO chief about damage to Hagia Sophia’s Imperial Gate

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Greek Prime Minister, Kyriakos Mitsotakis, spoke with UNESCO Director-General, Audrey Azoulay, on Thursday and expressed his “sadness and disgust” at the damage to the historic Imperial Gate of Hagia Sophia in Istanbul.

During the telephone call, Mitsotakis said the damage to the Imperial Gate demonstrated disrespect for the monument’s history, integrity and universal character.

For her part, Azoulay reiterated UNESCO’s concern about the consequences of the conversion of Hagia Sophia into a mosque and stressed that it would seek explanations from the Turkish authorities.

READ MORE: UNESCO asks Turkey for Hagia Sophia report as Erdogan marks anniversary of mosque change.

Greek Prime Minister, Kyriakos Mitsotakis (left) with UNESCO Director-General, Audrey Azoulav (right). Photo: APE-MPE.

Mitsotakis and Azoulay also agreed that immediate measures should be taken for the protection and security of the World Heritage Site in coordination with the competent authorities.

News of damage to the Imperial Gate emerged on Tuesday after the Turkish Union of Art History (STD) shared a picture on Twitter showing the oak wood of the 15-century-old gate badly damaged.

The Imperial Gate, which is the central door of Hagia Sophia, is about 7 meters high and the Byzantines claimed it was constructed of wood from Noah’s Ark.

READ MORE: Greek Foreign Ministry condemns damage to Hagia Sophia’s historic Imperial Gate.

According to Ekathimerini, the General Directorate of Institutions of Turkey attributed the damage to “normal” wear and tear.

“…the circular wooden element at the door of Hagia Sophia suffered normal wear and tear over time and was destroyed by a simple touch,” the organisation said in its statement.

It also insisted that Hagia Sophia is well protected by 150 security cameras, 68 security guards and tourist police.

Source: Ekathimerini.

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