Statement on Agia Sophia by the Cyprus Architect’s Association

The Cyprus Architects Association expresses its deep regret, disappointment and concern on the Turkish state’s action to change the status of the Agia Sophia temple in Istanbul. The universal cultural value, with which the complex and the surrounding area of the temple are recognized today, is due to the important and timeless policy of tolerance, acceptance and inter-cultural respect as defined and implemented under the guidance of UNESCO.

The tooling of the appropriate sense of conquest for mass consumption, the creation of fanaticism and the service of political expediency is a sad action at a time of global turbulence. We Cypriots have witnessed the violent destruction of historical and cultural monuments in our country over the last 46 years. Sad anniversaries and dividing walls are reminiscent of people’s acts who don’t fit our nature. It took enormous efforts and balancing mechanisms to establish the functioning of the Technical Committee on Cultural Heritage. The importance of rescuing local historic buildings is becoming more and more conscious.

The Cyprus Architects Association calls on the International Bodies and Organizations to take necessary actions to ensure the provisions of the Convention for the Protection of World Cultural Heritage (UNESCO 1972) and the International Charter for the Preservation and Restoration of Monuments and Sites (Venice Charter 1964).

Αgia Sophia must maintain the character of the World Monument, its multiethnic and multicultural character, a place open and tolerant, a beacon for the future of Humanity.