Foreign Ministry Spokesman Levent Gumrukçu commented for reporters on a recent announcement made by Greece's Foreign Ministry regarding religious freedom and Turkey's plans to turn Hagia Sophia into a mosque by stating, "Turkey has nothing to learn from Greece regarding freedom of faith. Turkey has always paid maximum attention to the sacredness of religious sites. Contrarily, everyone is well aware of the poor treatment that was given to the Ottoman religious sites and cultural artifacts that remained in Greece. Despite having a Muslim community of hundreds of thousands, Athens is still the only European capital that does not have a mosque open for worship."
Foreign Ministry Spokesman Gumrukçu's remarks followed comments by Greek Foreign Ministry Spokesman Konstantinos Kutras who referred to Turkey's intentions to turn Istanbul's Hagia Sophia Museum into a mosque would be an insult to the religious sensitivities of millions of Christians. "Byzantine Christian churches are an intrinsic element of world cultural and religious heritage, and they should receive the necessary respect and protection," said Kutras.