Turkey says it was following EU protocol when it left the bloc's female leader standing at a meeting

Turkey says it was following EU protocol when it left the bloc's female leader standing at a meeting
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen was left without a chair.YouTube/ Ihr Programm
  • Turkish President Erdoğan met top EU officials Charles Michel and Ursula von der Leyen Tuesday.
  • The men sat in armchairs, while von der Leyen was left to stand. She was finally seated on a sofa.
  • Turkey blamed EU protocol for the awkward seating arrangements.

Turkey has blamed the European Union for a moment of confusion where the bloc's female leader left standing at a meeting while the men were seated.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan hosted European Council President Charles Michel and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen in Ankara on Tuesday.

Video from the start of the meeting showed Erdoğan and Michel quickly seated in two adjacent gilt-edged armchairs.
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Off to the side, von der Leyen was left standing and saying "ahem." She was eventually seated on a sofa several meters away from the others.

The moment prompted swift condemnation by European politicians, and on Thursday, Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi said Erdoğan's behavior was unacceptable.

"I absolutely do not agree with Erdoğan's behavior towards president Von der Leyen … I think it was not appropriate behavior and I was very sorry for the humiliation von der Leyen had to suffer," he told reporters, according to The Guardian.
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"With these, let's call them what they are - dictators - with whom one nonetheless has to coordinate, one has to be frank when expressing different visions and opinions," Draghi added.

But later that day Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu suggested the EU was to blame for the mixup. "The protocol at the presidency met the demands of the EU side. In other words, the seating arrangement was designed to meet their demands and suggestions," he said, according to the BBC.
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Çavuşoğlu also scolded Draghi following his comments.

"We strongly condemn the appointed Italian prime minister Draghi's unacceptable, populist discourse and his ugly and unrestrained comments about our elected president," he tweeted.

In a Facebook post Wednesday, Michel - the European Council president also at the meeting - wrote that the the phrasing of the EU's meeting requirements had contributed to the awkwardness.
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"The strict interpretation of the protocol rules by the Turkish authorities gave rise to a distressing situation: the differentiated - even inferior - treatment accorded to the President of the European Commission," he said.

An EU representative previously told Euronet reporter Shona Murray that von der Leyen had "preferred" to give the seat to Michel but said "the president should have been seated exactly in the same manner."

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