Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi on Thursday described Turkish President Recep Tayyib Erdogan as a dictator, in remarks that risk further souring EU-Turkey ties.
He was speaking at a news conference after being asked about a diplomatic row over seating arrangements during a meeting between Erdogan and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen on Tuesday.
“I am very sorry for the humiliation that the president of the commission had to suffer with these, let’s call them for what they are, dictators, but with whom we need to cooperate,” Draghi told reporters.
The Turkish leader came under a torrent of criticism after images went viral of Von der Leyen being left without a seat during their meeting in Ankara, which also included European Council President Charles Michel.
Official images later showed her seated on a sofa opposite Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu.
Turkey and the EU blamed each other for the arrangements during the meeting, which was meant to set a more positive tone in relations after months of spats.
Italian PM calls Turkey's Erdogan a Dictator.
There is NO incentive for tyrants to implement reforms…Egypt’s murderous Dictator recently received France’s highest civilian award.
EU transactional foreign policy is a threat to EUROPE national security.https://t.co/iGRgUaApDA— Rula Jebreal (@rulajebreal) April 8, 2021
Several European Parliament groups demanded an investigation into how Von der Leyen was left standing while Michel took a seat.
Turkey condemned Italian PM’s ‘ugly’ remarks
Turkey on Thursday lashed out at Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi’s “ugly” comparison of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to a tyrant.
Draghi on Thursday accused Erdogan of being a dictator for holding a summit with the EU’s two top leaders in which European Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen ended up without a chair.
Turkish officials rejected blame for the episode, insisting that they were following the protocol instructions they had received from the EU.
The Turkish foreign ministry immediately summoned the Italian ambassador to Ankara to protest Draghi’s remarks, in which he said von der Leyen had been subjected to “humiliation” by the Turks.
Turkish FM: “We strongly condemn the unacceptable populist statements by the appointed Italian Prime Minister Draghi and his ugly and out-of-place remarks about our elected president Erdoğan”— Cevdet Yılmaz (@_cevdetyilmaz) April 8, 2021
“We strongly condemn the unacceptable populist remarks, and the ugly and unreasonable comments made by the appointed Italian Prime Minister Draghi,” Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu tweeted.
Omer Celik, the spokesman for Erdogan’s ruling AK Party, said he “regretted” Draghi’s comments because they do “not reflect the depth of Turkish-Italian relations”.
AFP with additional input by GVS News Desk