Turkey Summons Italian Envoy After Draghi Calls Erdogan Dictator
Turkey quickly summoned Massimo Gaiani, Italy’s ambassador in Ankara, to its foreign ministry after Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi labeled Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan a dictator.
Draghi, speaking to reporters in Rome on Thursday, said Erdogan was among the category of “dictators” that European leaders have to work with, as he criticized the Turkish president for a protocol incident involving European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen during her time in Ankara.
Von der Leyen met with Erdogan on a visit to Ankara on Tuesday, along with European Council chief Charles Michel, to discuss relations between Turkey and the European Union. After entering a room for discussions, TV images showed that only two chairs had been set for the three main participants.
As Erdogan and Michel took the two center-stage seats, Von der Leyen was left to seat herself on an adjacent sofa. The seating arrangement was in line with EU requests, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said after the incident caused a diplomatic and media stir.
Cavusoglu also weighed in on Draghi’s comments about Erdogan via a tweet late on Thursday.
“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,” he said.
Turkey is an EU candidate member, but its negotiations with the bloc on membership have stalled since 2016.
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