Turkey condemns Greek newspaper headline insulting Erdogan

ISTANBUL (AFP) – The Turkish Government condemned a headline in a Greek newspaper that insults President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, urging Athens to take action.

Turkey’s Foreign Ministry already summoned Greece’s ambassador over the headline in Dimokratia newspaper, also available on its website.

One offensive headline appears next to a photo of the president in the Greek newspaper.

“On behalf of the Turkish Government, I condemn in the strongest terms the publication of insults directed at our President on the front page of an extreme right newspaper,” Communications Director at the Turkish presidency Fahrettin Altun wrote in a letter to Greek government spokesman Stelios Petsas made public yesterday.

He urged Greece to bring to account those responsible for the “shameless” action.

The Greek Foreign Ministry said on Friday freedom of expression and of the press were fully protected in the European Union (EU) member country but added, “The use of offensive language is contrary to our country’s political culture and can only be condemned.”

The two North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) countries are already locked in a heated dispute over energy exploration in contested waters in the eastern Mediterranean.

Turkey’s deployment last month of a research vessel prompted the neighbours to stage rival air and naval drills in strategic waters between Cyprus and the Greek island of Crete.

Last weekend, Ankara pulled the vessel back to the shore for maintenance and replenishment after its one-month mission.

Erdogan said on Friday Turkey wanted to give diplomacy a chance and did not rule out a meeting Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis via videoconference or in a third country.

French President Emmanuel Macron, whose country backs Greece in the dispute, welcomed the Turkish leader’s willingness for dialogue, saying southern European leaders delivered a similar message to Turkey during a meeting in the Corsican city of Ajaccio last week.

“In Ajaccio, we sent a clear message to Turkey: Let’s re-open a responsible dialogue, in good faith, without naivety. This call is now also that of the European Parliament. It seems to have been heard. Let’s move on,” he tweeted in French and Turkish.