Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan sued Greek newspaper Dimokratia (Democracy) for a headline it published on its Sept. 18, 2020 front page, the Greek Reporter said on Wednesday.
Erdoğan’s lawyers named the newspaper’s director, two chief editors and a journalist in a lawsuit filed in Ankara, asking for prison sentences of up to five years, the Greek Reporter said.
Dimokratia used the headline “Siktir Git” for an article detailing the actions of both Erdoğan and other Turkish officials during a tense period between Greece and Turkey. The words roughly translate to “f*ck you” or “screw you” in Turkish.
Political and military tensions between Turkey and Greece have intensified in the past two years over a range of issues including overlapping territorial and hydrocarbon claims in the eastern Mediterranean. Last year Turkey sent the seismic survey ship Oruç Reis, escorted by warships, into waters claimed by Greece to search for natural gas. Greece responded by deploying its navy. The standoff prompted the EU to temporarily impose sanctions against senior Turkish energy ministry officials.
Dimokratia newspaper described the lawsuit as a “parody”, the Greek Reporter said.
“The official legal text submitted to Greek authorities is full of provocations. The Aegean Sea is referred to as the ‘Sea of Islands’, and the Turkish side accuses the paper’s journalists of creating obstacles to Mr. Erdoğan’s aspirations in the eastern Mediterranean and the Aegean,” Dimokratia said in a statement.
Cihat Yaycı, the architect of Turkey’s Blue Homeland doctrine, which lays claim to expansive territorial waters in the Aegean, Mediterranean and Black Sea, said last year that Turkey should not use the word “Aegean” (Ege) which has Greek origins, and suggested that the Aegean Sea should be called the “Sea of Islands ” or the “Northern Mediterranean”. The Aegean name comes from Aegeus, the father of Theseus, the mythical king and founder-hero of Athens.
“This is the first time that a foreign head of state has turned against a Greek newspaper, and for political reasons, as is clear from the text of the lawsuit sent by the Ankara prosecutor’s office,” Dimokratia said. It refused to participate in the lawsuit.
The newspaper said it considered it an honour that the Turkish leadership characterised it as an obstacle to its “expansionist and dangerous plans”, the Greek Reporter said.