Hagia Sophia is a global symbol. The Greeks, however, can understand the intentions of our neighbors a little better, because we also follow what their actions say. That is how we realized from the first moment that this move of the President of Turkey is nothing more than a challenge to our religious feelings, he said in an interview for the portal Srpske novine Nasos Moldovanidis Deputy International Secretary of ONNED (Youth of New Democracy party in Greece) and Vice Chairman in Democrat Youth Community of Europe (DEMYC).
- Turkish President T.R. Erdogan declared the Hagia Sophia a mosque, so the first prayer was performed on July 24. How did the Greek people react to this news?
Hagia Sophia is a global symbol. It is a world heritage site recognized by the most responsible, UNESCO. The Greeks recognize and recognized this universality. Beyond that, however, the Greeks can understand a little better the intentions of our neighbors, because every day we monitor both what they say and their actions. So from the very first moment, we realized that this move by the President of Turkey is nothing more than a challenge to our religious sentiment. So, as is logical, the reflexive reaction of the Greek citizens was anger. Not so much against President Erdogan and by no means against the Turkish people. But against the act itself that targeted Orthodoxy and Christianity, with the ultimate aim of getting President Erdogan’s reputation in the Muslim world, especially outside Turkey.
We should all understand the seriousness of this when it is the country that is attempting this, that whose leadership is clearly rooted in Western lifestyles and Western culture, trying to rally around it extreme Islamic voices and opinions. After all, it has not been long since Turkey in a delirium called for a general attack on the Muslim world against the state of Israel or from the direct military threats against Greece, which of course received the appropriate response, and so Turkey gathered its navy at the ports, and Greece for the second time in a few months, protected the European borders.
- During the prayer in Hagia Sophia, the President of the Directorate for Religious Affairs of Turkey raised his sword, clearly alluding to the Ottoman Empire. Can this be interpreted as an attack on Christianity?
Of course. Let me explain. Currently, I am completing my master’s degree in Geopolitics, Geostrategy, and International Defence Studies. One of the subjects I chose during my studies to study either at an academic level or for personal study and practice if you will, is the practices of Turkey in recent years. So Turkey for decades acrobats between the two poles of the world stage. The U.S. and Russia. In recent years, possibly because President Erdogan is constantly losing ground at home (let us not forget that he lost the Municipality of Constantinople twice in one year with a clear election result), Turkey is trying to become the third geopolitical pole, after the two countries I mentioned. In this, Turkey knows its audience. He knows who he should turn to. And these are of course the Muslims. Of course, Turkey is not generally aimed at Muslims, who in large numbers I have to say have no intention of attacking not Christianity, but any other religion. Turkey is clearly addressing the public who “obey” the “Muslim Brothers”. The organization that is behind the so-called “Arab Spring” and which, in addition to the crimes it has caused through this unrest, is the “mother” of several organizations, which are now recognized as terrorists, within them of course also the self-proclaimed “Islamic State”. This is the audience of Turkey and President Erdogan, and it is addressed to them.
I think after what I told you, it is clear that this move by the President of Religious Affairs of Turkey was a clear signal that the President of Turkey wants not only to “take” Kemal from the throne that the Turkish people have placed him on, but he wants to regenerate the Ottoman Empire, which of course had targeted the West and Christianity. , until the beginning of its end – i.e. the Greek Revolution of 1821.
- In Montenegro, the Serbian Orthodox Church is under attack from the authorities, who want to confiscate church property with the Law on Freedom of Religion. What does the Greek Orthodox Church think about this?
The position of the Greek Orthodox Church is firm and clear on such issues and does not change regardless of which religion or church is targeted. I would, therefore, like the church’s opinion to be placed in quotation marks so that nothing is misinterpreted.
“The Church of Greece supports human rights and of course religious freedoms. The State has its own property and the Church has its own. These are distinct powers within the boundaries of the Greek State.”
As Greeks, as Christians, as Orthodox, but above all, as people, we know how to respect, we hope that the situation will be rectified immediately and that the Serbian Orthodox Church will be restored, and that these powers will be distinct within the boundaries of the Montenegrin state.
- How do you interpret the situation that the Montenegrin authorities welcomed the conversion of the Hagia Sophia into a mosque, if we take into account that Montenegro is an Orthodox state?
I think that’s the easiest answer of all. No one needs to be an expert or have studied for years to understand the game that is being played. Montenegro has an economy that is trying to grow. I saw it with my own eyes when I visited Podgorica in 2018 for DEMYC’s Congress. So Turkey, which is looking for allies on the way to its “proclamation” as a third pole, what has it done? The simplest. In the first phase, it officially financed the restoration of Ottoman monuments (bridges and hammams) in Montenegro a few years ago. And slowly, we reached 2020 when the two countries signed an economic agreement to support Montenegro’s economy. So it’s just math. Will the Montenegrin government be against the people who support it? I don’t think so.
In the end, I would just like to make one comment if I may. Turkey has for years abandoned the “road of the West”. Now it shows it and states it clearly so that even the most skeptical can be convinced. Europe and the West in general all they have to do is recognize that in Turkey they do not have an “ally country” or a partner. They have an international troublemaker who every day tramples on international law and who will not rest unless he prevails throughout the wider region. Either militarily or financially. When the West recognizes and becomes aware of these things, then it will be able to find a solution to the phenomenon called Turkey.
Dragana B. Mijušković