Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi at a news conference earlier on April 8 called Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan a “dictator.”
“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.
“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, referring to a seating issue at a top EU officials meeting in Turkey
Turkey’s Foreign Minister Mevlut Çavuşoğlu also slammed the Italian premier’s remarks. “We strongly condemn appointed Italian PM’s unacceptable remarks on our elected president, return the impudent remarks,” he said on Twitter.
“While EU Council President Michel explained that there was no problem or intention resulting from Turkey regarding the protocol design, Italy‘s appointed Prime Minister Draghi’s remarks directed at our President are impudent and baseless. We condemn this expression and expect it to be corrected,” Turkey’s Presidential Spokesperson İbrahim Kalın said.
Turkey’s Communications Director Fahrettin Altun said by defining Erdoğan as a “dictator”, the Italian premier “exceeded the limits.”
Noting that Erdoğan was “elected President by the Turkish people with 52%”, 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 continued.
There was criticism in some circles on the seating arrangement at April 6’s meeting, where the Turkish president and the EU Council head Charles Michel sat down in separate chairs while von der Leyen was initially left standing.
She was then offered a seat on a couch, with Çavuşoğlu also sitting down on a separate couch opposite her.
Speaking to reporters early on April 8, Çavuşoğlu downplayed the brief confusion over the seating arrangements, saying that Turkey had satisfied all the protocol requirements of the EU side.
Hurriyet Daily News