Turkey summons Greek envoy over newspaper headline

Turkey has summoned the Greek ambassador over a newspaper headline insulting President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu said on Friday.

Greek newspaper Demokratia published the controversial headline on Friday, which included a Turkish expletive directed at the Turkish head of state.

The Foreign Ministry had a “harsh” response to Greek Ambassador Michael-Christos Diamessis for the headline, Cavusoglu told state-run Anadolu news agency.

Cavusoglu said that it was natural for news outlets in both countries to criticise each other's politicians – sometimes severely – but insults should not be considered within the framework of freedom of the press.

The Greek Foreign Ministry also reacted to the headline, saying in an announcement that freedom of the press “does not negate the obligation to refrain from insulting the personality of any individual, particularly a foreign leader”, Greek newspaper Kathimerini reported.

“The use of offensive language is contrary to our country’s political culture and can only be condemned,” the ministry said.

Çavuşoğlu welcomed a Greek Foreign Ministry’s statement, Anadolu said.

But the spat has underlined the level of animosity between the neighbouring countries in an ongoing dispute over territorial rights in the eastern Mediterranean. Greece and Cyprus say that their islands have their own continental shelves granting them extensive exploration rights, a claim Turkey contests.

Ankara, which does not recognise Cyprus as a state, claims half of the country’s exclusive economic zone on behalf of the breakaway Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus and has repeatedly carried out warship-escorted offshore drilling in its environs.

There is no point in embarking on new initiatives for a federation on the Cyprus issue, Çavuşoğlu said.

"We have said over and over again that we will no longer negotiate for a federation on the Cyprus issue,” Çavuşoğlu said.

Cyprus has been divided into two separate territories since a Turkish military intervention in 1974.

Repeated talks aimed at reunifying the island have failed, and Turkey now favours a two-state solution, Çavuşoğlu said.