Russia and Greece Discuss Libya and Bilateral Relations

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On Wednesday, Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis held a telephone conversation with Russian President Vladimir Putin. The two discussed the situation in Libya, bilateral relations, and Turkey’s decision to convert the Hagia Sophia museum into a mosque.

A statement by the Greek Prime Minister’s press office said that the talks focused on the need to reach a political solution to end the escalating tensions in Libya and the eastern Mediterranean region.

President Putin stressed the importance of an immediate ceasefire and the renewal of inter-Libyan dialogue based on the Berlin Conference and UN Security Council resolutions.

They also denounced Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s decision to convert the Hagia Sophia museum into a mosque, saying that the event is a challenge to the entire Christian Orthodox world.

On 10 July, the Turkish Council of State cancelled the Turkish government’s 1935 decree on assigning museum status to the Hagia Sophia. Later in the day, President Erdogan signed a decree declaring Hagia Sophia open for Muslim worship. Local Orthodox Churches, including the Russian Orthodox Church, voiced their regret over the decision. UNESCO followed suit.

Libya has been divided since 2014 between two rival administrations based in the east and west of the country. The eastern government is represented by the Tobruk-based House of Representatives (HoR) and supports the Libyan National Army (LNA), which led by Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar. The west is represented by the Tripoli-based Government of National Accord (GNA).