Images from the meeting in Ankara show how Von der Leyen remains visibly uncomfortable, while Erdogan and Michel sit on gilded chairs. The EU leader gestures with an arm and tries in vain to attract attention with an ‘er’.
Place on couch
Ultimately, von der Leyen was offered a seat on a couch opposite the Turkish Foreign Minister, who has a lower diplomatic status. View the images of the incident here:
According to a spokesman for the European Commission, von der Leyen was “clearly surprised” at the situation. Also, according to existing protocols, she should have been offered an “exactly the same” seat as Michel, the spokesman said.
Michel, in turn, was criticized for not standing up for his colleague at the time. Michel did not care about the “dire situation” in which Von der Leyen ended up, reports he on Facebook. The Belgian did not want to “aggravate the uncomfortable situation with a scene”.
Michel regrets that the riot “overshadows the important and useful work we have done together in Ankara”. And “that the impression has arisen that he would have been indifferent” about what happened to Von der Leyen.
In photos from previous encounters, Michel and Von der Leyen’s predecessors had places on either side of Erdogan, on an equal footing. It is not known why this was different at this meeting organized by Turkey.