Not having a chair when EU leaders visit Turkey is still something to talk about. Charles Michel now clarifies his position at the meeting.
European Union Council President Charles Michel defends himself against criticism of his behavior During the meeting with the Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Michel said Wednesday evening that the fact that European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen could not take a seat alongside Erdogan other than that it was due to “the strict interpretation of the protocol rules by the Turkish services.” This resulted in a “reduced treatment” for the chairperson of the commission, which he regrets.
Von der Leyen and Michel traveled to Ankara on Tuesday to explore ways to improve relations with Turkey. A video clip shows how the committee chairman was initially standing in the Turkish presidential office and interacting with an “mother” when Erdogan and Michel are seated in two armchairs next to each other. Then she had to sit on a sofa from a distance.
The case, dubbed “Sofagate”, has drawn strong criticism and accusations of misogyny. Michel himself had to put up with the question of why he hadn’t protested against his colleague’s treatment.
Memories of Juncker
The pictures gave the impression that “I would have been insensitive in this situation,” he wrote on his Facebook page. “Nothing is further from reality.” The “regrettable nature” of the treatment was clear to him. But we decided not to make it worse with a public accident. ”
Former EU Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker noted that, too, he was sometimes treated as “number two” behind the council president when traveling abroad. “It was clear to everyone that from the point of view of the protocol, the president of the council is number one,” he told Politico online magazine. “I usually had a chair next to the chair’s chair, but sometimes I would sit on a sofa.”
On Wednesday, the Turkish government denied responsibility for the accident. “No precautions have been taken other than those requested by a European delegation preparing for the visit,” said a government official from the French News Agency. According to the Commission, the European Union delegation participated in Ankara.
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