Turkey summons Italian envoy after Draghi calls Erdogan “dictator”

The Turkish Foreign Ministry summoned the Italian ambassador in light of Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi’s comments about President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Ambassador Massimo Gaiani, who has been serving as the Italian envoy to Turkey since January 2019, was summoned over Draghi’s remarks, in which he called Erdogan a “dictator.”

In a message on Twitter, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavuoglu said Turkey strongly condemns Italy’s appointed Prime Minister Draghi’s “unacceptable, populist and ugly” remarks about President Erdogan.

He added that Turkey “returns” the remarks made.

In a statement, the Foreign Ministry said that the Italian envoy was immediately summoned over the “unacceptable” remarks..

Deputy FM Faruk Kaymakcı told the ambassador that Turkey condemns the appointed Italian prime minister’s remarks about Erdogan, who has become president receiving the highest amount of people’s support in Europe, the statement said, adding that Turkey expects Italy to withdraw the remarks, “which contradict Turkey-Italy friendship and alliance.”

The deputy foreign minister also told the ambassador that the statements about the seating arrangements regarding Wednesday’s meeting with no knowledge about the protocol are “unacceptable.” Furthermore, Kaymakcı added that Turkey would not take sides in meaningless disputes of the EU and finds the efforts to sabotage the positive developments between Turkey and the bloc “useless.”

Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi on Thursday described Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan as a dictator, in remarks that risk further souring EU-Turkey ties, AFP reports.

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.

Several European Parliament groups demanded an investigation into how von der Leyen was left standing while Michel took a seat.

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