- Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi described Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan as a “dictator”.
- Then Turkey summoned the Italian ambassador and now demands that Draghi withdraw the statement.
- The tension arose because of the seating arrangement during the visit of the President of the European Commission, von der Leyen, to Erdogan: she had to make do with a separate sofa.
The Italian prime minister literally said in front of the press in Rome on Thursday evening: “With these – let’s call them what they are – dictators, you still have to coordinate with them, you have to talk openly about different visions and opinions.” Moreover: “This was behavior that I really did not like because of the humiliation suffered by the President of the European Commission, von der Leyen.” But one must also be prepared to cooperate with these “dictators” for the benefit of the country. Draghi said it takes the right balance.
Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu condemned Draghi’s statement on Twitter, describing it as “ugly and wild statements.” The Turkish Foreign Ministry announced that Turkey had ordered the Italian ambassador to protest. She added that Draghi is expected to back down and make clear.
Cavusoglu previously stated that the seating arrangement complies with the requirements of the European Union. His country considers itself vulnerable to “unfair accusations.”
Other members of Erdogan’s party, such as Tourism Minister Numan Kurtulmus, have also said that Turkey does not have dictators. If Italy wants to see a dictator, all the country has to do is look at its history. “Look at Mussolini,” continued Cortolmus.