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EU says Hagia Sophia mosque decision 'regrettable'

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan, with a picture of Hagia Sophia or Ayasofya in the background, delivers a televised address to the nation in Ankara, Turkey, July 10, 2020. Turkish Presidential Press Office/Handout via REUTERS

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - The European Union lamented on Friday President Tayyip Erdogan’s decision to declare Istanbul’s Hagia Sophia open to Muslim prayer as a mosque, after a top court ruled that the building’s conversion to a museum was illegal.

“The ruling by the Turkish Council of State to overturn one of modern Turkey’s landmark decisions and President Erdogan’s decision to place the monument under the management of the Religious Affairs Presidency is regrettable,” EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said in a statement.

Reporting by Robin Emmott; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama