Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has lodged a criminal complaint against four senior staff employed by a Greek newspaper about an insulting headline, according to Turkish media.
The state-run Anadolu Agency reported that the president’s lawyer, Huseyin Aydin, filed the complaint on Monday about the headline run in Dimokratia, a right-wing paper, on September 18.
The headline “Siktir Git Mr. Erdogan”, which means “F*** off Mr. Erdogan” in Turkish, appeared next to a photo of the president, and included the English translation.
In the complaint submitted to the Ankara prosecutor’s office, Aydin described as “suspects” the four people involved – Manolis Kotakis, the author of the article, editors Andreas Kapsampelis and Yorgos Giatroudakis, and editor-in-chief Dimitris Rizoulis.
Following the complaint, the prosecutors in the capital launched an investigation against the newspaper.
“Considering the silence of the Greek public, it is understood that this moral collapse is not limited to marginal segments,” the complaint said, according to Anadolu.
Swearing is the language of those who do not have a word to say, or those who have a word to say but are incapable of speaking in a proper language, it added.
Turkey’s foreign ministry had already summoned Greece’s ambassador about the headline in, which was also published on the newspaper’s website.
The Greek foreign ministry had said on Friday that freedom of expression was fully protected in the EU member country, but added: “The use of offensive language is contrary to our country’s political culture and can only be condemned.”
Erdogan’s move came as the two NATO countries are locked in a heated dispute about energy exploration in contested waters in the eastern Mediterranean.
Turkey’s deployment last month of research vessel Oruc Reis prompted the uneasy 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 after its one-month mission, but it extended the operations of another research vessel, Barbaros Hayrettin Pasa, off Cyprus until October 18, according to a message on Friday on maritime alert system NAVTEX.
Turkey’s drill ship Yavuz will also remain off Cyprus until October 12.
In recent days, the likelihood of the two countries entering dialogue has improved.
Greece and Turkey are close to reviving talks, a Greek official said Monday.
“We are close to restarting the exploratory talks … There will be an announcement when this is finalised but the atmosphere is good,” Greek government spokesman Stelios Petsas told reporters.
Petsas also confirmed local media reports that US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is expected to visit Greece for a meeting with Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis to discuss the crisis, but added that the schedule is still being worked out.