Turkey freezes huge helicopter order as Italy does not apologize for calling Erdogan a “dictator”

Turkey has frozen a 70 million euros ($83 million) worth deal to purchase helicopters from Italy after the Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi criticized President Recep Tayyip Erdogan for his behavior to the President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen during her visit to Turkey with the President of the European Council Charles Michel.

More specifically, on Thursday, Draghi called the Turkish President a “dictator” mentioning his “inappropriate behavior” during a recent visit of Ursula von der Leyen and Charles Michel to Ankara.

During a meeting of the EU officials with Erdogan, in the room were set up only two chairs on which the Turkish President and Charles Michel sat, leaving the President of the European Commission standing. Official photos of the meeting show later Ursula von den Leyen sitting on a sofa away from Charles Michel and Tayyip Erdogan.

Turkish MFA Mevlut Cavusoglu described Draghi’s remarks as “unacceptable populist rhetoric.” Italy’s ambassador to Ankara was summoned to the Turkish Ministry of Foreign Affairs over the Italian Prime Minister’s statement.

According to Italian newspapers, Turkey is demanding an official apology from the Italian government and is not going to be content with clarifications through diplomatic channels.

With Rome showing no intention to apologize, Ankara has reportedly frozen the deal to buy training helicopters from the Italian company Leonardo that was expected to be signed in the coming days.

Also, at least three Italian companies operating in Turkey have also received a notice from the Turkish government, including energy company Ansaldo Energia that builds power plants in Turkey.

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