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Demarche lodged to UNESCO over Chora monastery

Mr. Giorgos Koumoutsakos, the permanent representative of Greece to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation, has lodged a demarche to UNESCO in Paris, after the decision by Turkish authorities to convert the Monastery of Chora in Constantinople into a mosque. 

Koumoutsakos, who met on Friday with the assistant director-general for culture of UNESCO, Ernesto Ottone, expressed Greece’s strong concerns about the effects of this decision on the monument as well as its cultural heritage. He also underlined that this decision directly contradicts the international rules for the protection of the cultural heritage of humanity. According to reports, Ottone pledged to look into the matter.

The Monastery of Chora is included in the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites. It houses the most elaborate Byzantine mosaics surviving in Constantinople, along with Hagia Sophia and the Monastery of Pammakaristos, which also functions as a mosque. It was first converted into a mosque in 1511, 58 years after the fall of Constantinople to the Ottomans. It became a museum in 1945. But the decision was revoked in 2019 by Turkey’s Council of State, and a year later Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced it would function as a mosque.