Turkey denies that European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen was deliberately not offered a seat during a visit by top European leaders Michel and Von der Leyen to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan earlier this week.
According to the Turkish authorities, the European protocol services agreed to the arrangement of the chairs.
During a visit to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Von der Leyen had to sit on a sofa on Tuesday and not like European Council President Charles Michel on a chair next to Erdogan. After images of an astonished von der Leyen started circulating on social media, #sofagate was born. On social media, there was a lot of criticism of the images and accusations of, among other things, gender discrimination.
But Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu denies that Turkish President Erdogan wanted to split up his interlocutors and that von der Leyen was deliberately placed on the sofa. “The chairs were placed as requested by the EU. Our protocol services met before the meeting, and their questions were respected,” he said.
“The accusations against Turkey are unjustified.” The fact that von der Leyen is a woman would also play no role. It is not the first time that Turkey has received high-ranking guests, it said. Above that, “the protocol rules are in line with world-renowned Turkish hospitality”.
However, according to the Commission, its protocol service was not involved in the preparation because it could not be part of the delegation travelling to Ankara due to the corona measures in force.