The incident with the chair for von der Leyen. Turkish Foreign Ministry said the country was subjected to “unfair criticism”

He stated this on April 8, writes The Associated Press.

Ursula von der Leyer and the head of the European Council Charles Michel met Erdogan on April 7 in Ankara. An incident occurred during the meeting: for von der Leyer there was no chair next to the president of Turkey.

The video from the meeting shows that only two chairs were prepared in the hall, and after the photo shoot they were occupied by Michel and Erdogan. Von der Leyen seemed to be embarrassed by the situation. She said, “Um …” and made a gesture with her hand that probably indicated that she didn’t know where to sit. Subsequently, the head of the European Commission was offered to take a seat on the sofa opposite Cavusoglu and at some distance from the chairs where Michel and Erdogan were sitting.

Von der Leyen, who became the first woman to serve as President of the European Commission, “should have sat just like the President of the European Council and the President of Turkey,” said her spokeswoman.

Cavusoglu explained this seating with a protocol that “responded to the EU’s requests.”

He stated that the organization was carried out in accordance with the proposals of the guests’ side. The head of the EU protocol service Dominique Marro noted that the EU representatives did not have access to the preparation of the premises where the meeting was held. According to him, the protocol service would recommend replacing the sofas, on which von der Leyen and Cavusoglu subsequently sat, with chairs.

Marro stressed that in general, the protocol for third countries draws a distinction between the status of the head of state, which the President of the European Council possesses, and the status of the prime minister, which the President of the European Commission possesses.

MEP, Netherlands Representative Sophie in’t Weld notedthat the previous leaders of the EU – Donald Tusk (was the president of the European Council) and Jean-Claude Juncker (was the head of the European Commission) – Erdogan met differently: the seats were prepared for three, not two. In her opinion, the chair for von der Leyen was not intentionally prepared.

MEP Anna Cavazzini on Twitter criticized Michel’s actions in this situation. President of the Council of Europe wrote on Facebook that he is saddened by the situation. Michel writes that the Turkish authorities strictly adhered to the protocol and this created “an alarming situation.”

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“Realizing the unfortunate nature of the incident, we decided not to aggravate the situation by setting up a scene. We decided instead to focus on the content of the political discussions that Ursula and I should have started with our hosts,” he wrote.

Cavazzini believes that the best solution for him would be to give up the chair to the head of the European Council.


  • Juncker in comments Politico noted that he usually had a chair next to the President of the European Council. “But sometimes it happened that I was sitting on the couch,” said the ex-president of the European Commission.
  • After the meeting, von der Leyen did not speak about the incident, but expressed concern about the situation with women’s rights in Turkey and withdrawal of the country from the Istanbul Convention.


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