Qa-45, 11 June 2020, Statement Of The Spokesperson Of The Ministry Of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Hami Aksoy, In Response To A Question Regarding The Chapter On Turkey Of The ''2019 Report On International Religious Freedom'' Published By The Us Department Of State

Republic Of Turkey Ministry Of Foreign Affairs 11.06.2020

Chapter on Turkey of the "2019 Report on International Religious Freedom" published by the US Department of State on 10 June 2020 is once again drawn up in a language that is far from objectivity and it contains unfounded accusations based on ambiguous sources.

Turkey continues to support, through concrete steps, its goal to protect and promote the freedom of religion and worship for all citizens without any discrimination. Different religions and faiths co-exist in Turkey in peace and harmony.

In the last 20 years, Turkey has taken significant steps to enhance the rights and freedoms of its non-Muslim citizens, and to foster an environment of tolerance and mutual understanding. It is without a doubt that, as part of the objective to futher advance our democracy, important progress has been achieved in this period, both in law and practice, to enable each of our citizens to enjoy their rights equally and to prevent all forms of discrimination.

We are puzzled by the remarks made in the report regarding Hagia Sophia and Chora in the context of the statements issued lately.

Hagia Sophia and Chora are the properties of the Republic of Turkey and any right to disposition is a subject solely of Turkey’s domestic affairs. Any decisions made or to be made on these cultural assets can not be a matter of other states.

Turkey is well aware of the outstanding value of all cultural and religious properties in its territories and is duly protecting them.

While Turkey’s will to protect and promote religious freedoms and the concrete steps it takes to this end are evident; it is tragicomic for the US to try to steer the attention of the international public opinion away from its domestic turbulences during a time Islamophobia, anti-Semitism, racism and xenophobia are on a rapid rise in the US.

We reject all inconsistencies in the report as well as the intentional statements without any basis and invite the US to focus on its internal affairs regarding religious freedoms and human rights.

Atatürk

Süleyman İnan Özyıldız Ambassador
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