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Pompeo urges Turkey to resolve Chora dispute

Featured Pompeo urges Turkey to resolve Chora dispute

Mike Pompeo, the former U.S. Secretary of State, voiced his concerns regarding Turkey’s decision to transform the Chora church, a recognized UNESCO world heritage site, from a museum into a mosque.

Speaking at the 4th International Conference of the Archons of the Ecumenical Patriarchate on Tuesday, Pompeo emphasized the church’s significant historical and spiritual status.

“The Chora is not merely an edifice; it is a site of immense historical and sacred importance,” Mr. Pompeo remarked. He criticized Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s actions, suggesting they could pressure Turkish citizens to forsake their religious heritage and sacred sites.

He then recounted an incident where there was disagreement within the U.S. State Department about issuing a statement on the matter. “Mike, this is not our business, it’s an internal ecclesiastical issue between Russia and Ukraine,” they said. “But no. America had an obligation to do so.”

Mr. Pompeo expressed hope for Turkey’s future leadership, emphasizing the importance of religious freedoms. “This month, President Erdogan proceeded with plans to convert the Chora Monastery into a mosque. This is a divisive move that will cause further religious strife. It is a sacred place, a historic site, a unique UNESCO monument. There is no reason for this,” he said.

He added, “This action is a provocation, and President Erdogan himself is a provocation. I hope that, at some point, the people of Turkey will elect authorities—presidents and mayors in Ankara and Istanbul—who will respect religious freedoms. This is a significant challenge,” Mr. Pompeo stated.