Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan filed a lawsuit against the Greek newspaper Dimokratia, or “Democracy,” in Ankara on Wednesday.
The daily newspaper’s director, two chief editors, and a journalist have all been targeted in the lawsuit.
Erdogan’s reason for the suit stems from a September 18, 2020 front page with the crude title “Siktir Git,” which roughly translates to “f*ck you,” or “screw you,” in Turkish.
The front page contained details of the actions of both Erdogan and other Turkish officials during a period of tension between Greece and Turkey.
Erdogan sues Greek newspaper
At the time, Turkey had sent its research vessel “Oruc Reis” out on various illegal research missions in Greek and Cypriot waters.
In a statement, Dimokratia referred to the lawsuit as a “parody,” and notes that the text submitted to the Greek authorities contains provocative language, such as referring to the Aegean Sea as the “Sea of Islands.”
“The official legal text submitted to Greek authorities is full of provocations. The Aegean Sea is referred to as the ‘sea of islands’, and the Turkish side accuses the paper’s journalists of creating obstacles to Mr. Erdogan’s aspirations in the Eastern Mediterranean and the Aegean,” the newspaper’s statement reads.
Erdogan has been promoting this name for the Aegean in recent years. Speaking to a congress of his AKP party in Istanbul in February, Erdogan said that there should be no “concerns about Turkey’s presence from the eastern Mediterranean to the Black Sea, as well as in the Aegean, which old-timers called the Sea of Islands.”
He was referring to remarks by retired admiral Cihat Yayci, one of the main architects of the “Blue Homeland” theory which envisions Turkish influence over vast swaths of the eastern Mediterranean.
Yaci has asked for the name of the Aegean to be changed, since it is indeed Greek (the Turks call it “Ege”), and referred to it as the “Sea of Islands.”
Newspaper refuses to participate in “parody lawsuit”
The newspaper’s statement alludes to Erdogan’s goal to have Dimokratia’s staff sentenced to prison terms.
“Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is prosecuting the newspaper ‘Democracy’ (Dimokratia) and wants to sentence four of its staff to imprisonment in Turkey, which can reach up to five years. This is the first time that a foreign head of state has turned against a Greek newspaper, and for political reasons, as is clear from the text of the lawsuit sent by the Ankara prosecutor’s office.”
Dimokratia asserted that it refuses to even participate in lawsuit, and it “considers it an honor that the Turkish leadership characterizes our newspaper as an obstacle to its expansionist and dangerous plans,” according to a statement.