Turkey's Foreign Ministry on Thursday summoned the Italian ambassador to condemn the Italian premier's remarks on the country's president.
Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi at a news conference earlier on Thursday called Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan a "dictator."
"I totally disagree with Erdoğan's behavior. I believe that it wasn't appropriate behavior. I was really sorry for the humiliation that [European Commission President Ursula] Von der Leyen had to suffer.
"Here the consideration we have to make is that with these -- let's call them what they are -- dictators, who however we need to cooperate, is that we must be frank in expressing our diverging views, behavior and vision of society, but we also need to be ready to cooperate to ensure the interests of our country. We need to find the right balance," Draghi said, referring to a seating issue at a top EU officials meeting in Turkey.
Turkey's Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu also slammed the Italian premier's remarks. "We strongly condemn appointed Italian PM's unacceptable remarks on our elected president, return the impudent remarks," he said on Twitter.
There was criticism in some circles on the seating arrangement at Tuesday's meeting, where the Turkish president and the EU Council head Charles Michel sat down in separate chairs while von der Leyen was initially left standing.
She was then offered a seat on a couch, with Çavuşoğlu also sitting down on a separate couch opposite her.
Speaking to reporters early Thursday, Çavuşoğlu downplayed the brief confusion over the seating arrangements, saying that Turkey had satisfied all the protocol requirements of the EU side.