Turkey Furious After Mario Draghi Calls Erdogan “Dictator”
In the aftermath of last week’s historic snub, when the female president of the European Commission was left speechless – and chairless – during her controversial visit to Turkey’s president, diplomatic relations between Europe and Turkey has once again fallen off a cliff.
As a reminder, the European Commission president, Von der Leyen was clearly taken aback when she and her male partner, European Council President Charles Michel, met Erdogan in Ankara last Tuesday, only to find just two chairs prepared, which were quickly occupied by the men. Erdogan and Michel quickly seated themselves while von der Leyen, whose diplomatic rank is the same as that of the two men, was left standing. Official images later showed her seated on a sofa opposite Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu.
— Sergey Lagodinsky (@SLagodinsky) April 6, 2021
In response, former Goldman partner, ECB head and current Italian Prime Minister, Mario Draghi, told reporters on Thursday that “I absolutely do not agree with Erdoğan’s behavior towards president Von der Leyen … I think it was not appropriate behavior and I was very sorry for the humiliation Von der Leyen had to suffer.”
He then said that “with these dictators, let’s call them what they are – who however are needed – one must be honest in expressing one’s diverging ideas and views about society.”
We would love to know more about what Draghi meant by “dictators who are needed” and how Europe treats them compared to dictators who are unneeded… like perhaps having Europe’s unelected money-printing dictators pushing their bond yields to double digits overnight? But we digress.
Predictably, Turkey was furious with the Italian Prime Minister for calling Erdogan a “dictator” and Turkey’s Foreign Ministry on Thursday summoned the Italian ambassador to Ankara to condemn the remarks. According to a foreign ministry statement, the ambassador was told that Draghi’s remarks were against the spirit of the Turkey-Italy alliance.
The ministry said Draghi should “immediately” take back his “impudent and ugly remarks”. Foreign Minister Cavusoglu also slammed the remarks in a tweet.
“We strongly condemn the appointed Italian Prime Minister Draghi’s unacceptable, populist discourse and his ugly and unrestrained comments about our elected president,” he wrote on Twitter.
Earlier on Thursday, Çavuşoğlu said that the seating at the meeting was arranged in line with the bloc’s demands and international protocol and that Turkey was being subject to “unjust accusations“.
Turkey has insisted that the EU’s own protocol requests were applied but the EU Council head of protocol said his team did not have access, during their preparatory inspection, to the room where the incident happened.
“If the room for the tete-a-tete had been visited, we should have suggested to our hosts that, as a courtesy, they replace the sofa with two armchairs for the president of the commission,” Dominique Marro wrote in a note made public by the EU Council. He added that the incident might have been prompted by the order of protocol established by the EU treaty.
Of course, Erdogan’s excuse was BS: the incident came only weeks after Erdoğan pulled Turkey out of a key European convention aimed at combating violence against women. The move was a blow to Turkey’s women’s rights movement, which says domestic violence and murders of women are on the rise. During her visit to Ankara, Von der Leyen called for Erdoğan to reverse his decision to withdraw from the Istanbul convention – named after the Turkish city where it was signed in 2011.
Not to put too fine a point on it, but with the world so deep inside the rabbit hole, we would not be surprised if WWIII broke out over some seating arrangement.
Sat, 04/10/2021 – 21:30