Draghi calls Erdoğan a dictator: a clumsy reaction?
Commenting during a press conference on the missing third chair when EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen visited Ankara, Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi harshly criticised the incident and called Turkey's President Erdoğan a dictator.
Has he only just noticed who Erdoğan is?
Cyprus Mail publishes a commentary by Faisal J. Abbas, editor-in-chief of the Saudi newspaper Arab News:
“Has he only just discovered that the Erdogan regime has transformed Turkey into a dictatorship? Was the arrest or suspension of nearly 45,000 military officials, judges, civil servants and school teachers in 2016 not enough of an indicator? According to the Turkish justice ministry, a total of 128,872 investigations were launched in the past six years over 'insulting the president,' of which 27,717 led to criminal prosecutions, and 9,556 to sentences of imprisonment. ... In this period, 903 young people between the ages of 12 and 17 were put on trial on the same 'charge.' As for suggestions that what happened with von der Leyen was 'insulting to Europe' - I wonder if critics have noticed Turkey's continued intimidation of Cyprus and Greece in the eastern Mediterranean.”
Strengthen Turkey's civil society
Commenting in La Stampa, political scientist Nathalie Tocci is not impressed with Draghi's choice of words:
“If Turkey were really a dictatorship, no material interests could justify improving relations. The fact is, however, that we have an interest in opening a new chapter with Turkey precisely because it is not a dictatorship. It is a country where authoritarianism has gradually solidified, but in which society continues to show incredible signs of democratic resilience. ... This civil society urgently needs a solid connection with Europe. But that is precisely what it has been denied, both because Europe has slammed doors in its face and because of the authoritarianism and nationalism of its leadership .”
Yetkin Report criticises what it sees as rash interpretations on the European side:
“The main problem is that the biased Europeans are trying to blame the protocol issue between their own representatives on Turkey by implying that the Turkish president snubbed the revered von der Leyen both diplomatically and as a woman. ... That Mario Draghi is ignoring the personal feud between the two EU leaders and calling Erdoğan a 'dictator' goes hand in hand with this prejudice. The root of the problem that has come to light with the protocol incident is double standards. It is the EU that purports to defend values and principles while putting its own interests first.”