Turkey and Greece have exchanged harsh words over the conversion of Istanbul’s Hagia Sophia into a mosque, a day after Islamic prayers were held at the ancient site for the first time in 90 years.
Relations between NATO allies Ankara and Athens have been uneasy in recent months but tensions have recently increased over Hagia Sophia and energy riches in the eastern Mediterranean.
“We see that the targets of those countries who have made so much noise in recent days are not Hagia Sophia or the eastern Mediterranean,” Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said in a televised speech on Saturday.
“[Their targets] are the presence itself of the Turkish nation and Muslims in this region.”
He also condemned hostile statements by the Greek government and Parliament members and Turkish flag-burning in the Greek city of Thessaloniki.
Erdogan joined thousands for the first Islamic prayer on Friday since Hagia Sophia was reconverted into a mosque this month.
Hagia Sophia was previously a…