Italian PM refuses to issue correction on ‘dictator’ comment for Erdoğan

Italy’s Prime Minister Mario Draghi said he would not correct anything regarding his recent comments on Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, when urged to do so by former Italian ambassador to Ankara Luigi Mattiolo, BBC Turkish reported on Thursday, citing Italian sources.

Mattiolo told Draghi that him calling Erdoğan a “dictator” could have “serious consequences”, Italian daily La Stampa reported.

“This must be somehow corrected,” Mattiolo told Draghi, according to La Stampa, to which the premier responded, “I will not correct anything.”

Responding to a question on SofaGate, a crisis emerging from the treatment of European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen during a press event with Erdoğan and European Council President Charles Michel, Draghi said Erdoğan was among “dictators with whom we need to cooperate” on April 8.

Breaking his silence for the first time on the matter, Erdoğan on Thursday said, “This man called Draghi took an axe to relations between us by making this statement.”

Matteo Salvini, the leader of Italy’s right-wing La Lega, said in a tweet, “Today more than ever I stand with president Draghi, democracy, freedom and the West.”

“That Mr Erdoğan, who arrests opposition deputies and bombs Kurdish villages, wants to give lessons to the Italian prime minister in style and manners is hilarious,” Italian wire service ANSA cited Secretary National of Italy’s left-wing Sinistra Italiana Nicola Frattoianni as saying.