Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has reassured his Russian counterpart on the protection of artwork sacred to Christians inside the Byzantine-era Hagia Sophia after its conversion to a mosque on Friday, the Sputnik Turkish service reported, citing an official statement from the Kremlin.
According to the statement issued on Monday, Vladimir Putin told Erdoğan in a recent phone call that Hagia Sophia’s conversion to a mosque had sparked outrage in Russia.
Everyone will still be able to visit Hagia Sophia, Erdoğan said.
A Turkish court on Friday revoked a 1934 government decree converting Hagia Sophia to a museum after serving as a mosque since the conquest of İstanbul by Ottomans in 1453.
A few hours after the court verdict, a presidential decree changed the status of the 15-century-old building to a mosque, a move that drew criticism from Western countries as well as the Russian Orthodox Church.