Turkey summons Italian envoy over remarks on Erdoğan
Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi called President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan a “dictator” at a news conference earlier on April 8.
“I totally disagree with Erdoğan’s behavior. I believe that it wasn’t appropriate behavior. I was really sorry for the humiliation that [European Commission President Ursula] von der Leyen had to suffer,” Draghi said referring to a debate on the seating protocol for the top EU official during a meeting in Turkey.
“Here the consideration we have to make is that with these - let’s call them what they are - dictators, who however we need to cooperate, is that we must be frank in expressing our diverging views, behavior and vision of society, but we also need to be ready to cooperate to ensure the interests of our country. We need to find the right balance,” Draghi said.
Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu also strongly condemned the Italian prime minister’s “unacceptable populist remarks,” on Turkey’s “elected president” and said Ankara returns these “impudent” remarks.
Presidential Spokesperson İbrahim Kalın, meanwhile, said that while European Council President Charles Michel explained that there was no problem or intention resulting from Turkey regarding the protocol design. Kalın noted that Italy’s appointed Prime Minister Draghi’s remarks directed at Erdoğan were “impudent and baseless.”
Condemning the expression, Kalın said Turkey expects it to be corrected.
By defining Erdoğan as a “dictator,” the Italian premier “exceeded the limits,” Turkey’s Communications Director Fahrettin Altun said.
Noting that Erdoğan was “elected president by the Turkish people with 52% [of votes],” Altun said, “We strongly condemn this style which has no place in diplomacy.” “Those looking for the dictator should look at the history of Italy,” he added.
There was much criticism after von der Leyen was left without a chair and ended up on a side sofa, while President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and Michel took the only two available seats between the E.U. and Turkish flags. Michel and von der Leyen are both presidents of EU institutions, and, thus, are equivalent in the bloc’s hierarchy.
Von der Leyen’s seating on the sofa was mirrored on the other side of the room by Foreign Minister Çavuşoğlu, whom the commission says she outranks.
Çavuşoğlu on April 8 said protocol officers from Ankara and Brussels had discussed arrangements before a visit by the top officials of the European Union to Turkey, and the protocol order was arranged in line with the suggestions of the EU.