Former U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has strongly criticised the Turkish government’s decision to convert the Byzantine Chora Monastery from a museum into a mosque.

Speaking to journalists in Athens, including Athens-Macedonian News Agency (ANA-MPA) President Aimilios Perdikaris, Pompeo described the decision as “tragic” for Turkish citizens and the faithful of all religions. He was in Athens for the International Conference of the Archons of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, held from May 26-29.

Pompeo emphasised that the conversion not only undermines religious freedoms but also restricts the freedoms of Turkish citizens. He noted that the Trump administration had indicated that such actions would not be tolerated, as they contravene the fundamental principles of the European Union, which Turkey seeks to join, and NATO‘s ideals. He argued that the decision is contrary to human dignity and personal religious freedom, highlighting the difficulty of protecting human rights.

When asked about the potential for improved Greek-Turkish relations to influence this issue, Pompeo expressed confidence in the Greek government’s efforts. He suggested that better bilateral relations could create more opportunities for religious freedoms in Turkey, benefiting not just Orthodox Christians but all faiths.

Pompeo also addressed the upcoming U.S. presidential elections, predicting a victory for Donald Trump and significant changes in U.S. foreign policy. He suggested that a second Trump term would strengthen relations with Israel and Persian Gulf states, aiming to isolate Iran. Pompeo criticised the current administration’s policies, suggesting they have enabled Tehran’s nuclear ambitions.

He stated that a Trump administration would adopt a tougher stance on China, particularly in trade, and highlighted the previous administration’s support for Ukraine with defence equipment. Pompeo expressed hope that Trump could persuade Russian President Vladimir Putin to end the conflict in Ukraine, emphasising the importance of a Russian defeat for global stability.

Pompeo welcomed the Biden administration’s efforts to enhance U.S.-Greece defence cooperation, suggesting that this relationship could grow even closer under Trump. He supported Europe’s efforts to strengthen its defense capabilities outside of NATO, emphasizing the strategic importance of air and naval defenses in the Mediterranean.

Discussing the conflict between Israel and Hamas, Pompeo asserted that “Hamas cannot win this war.” He stressed the need to support Israel, which he described as the “rock” of religious freedoms in the Middle East. He criticised the Biden administration for creating the perception of a rift in U.S.-Israeli relations, which he claimed had emboldened. Pompeo predicted that Israeli military operations might extend to the north due to Hezbollah’s involvement.

When asked about the potential resolution of the wars in Ukraine and the Middle East, Pompeo expressed hope that Western principles would prevail, despite the anticipated costs. He warned that a disorderly retreat by Ukraine would vindicate Russian aggression. Regarding Israel and Hamas, he emphasized that there could be no return to the pre-October 7, 2023, status quo.

Pompeo also addressed concerns about foreign interference in the upcoming U.S. elections, asserting that Russia and China are already attempting to meddle through various means, including social media. He warned European leaders to be vigilant about potential interference in their own elections.


(Source: Amna)