European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen was snubbed in a meeting with Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, Turkey’s leader, when she was left without a chair.
The talks in Ankara, which included discussions on women’s rights, were held between Erdoğan, Charles Michel, president of the European Council, and von der Leyen, the Commission’s first female president.
The two men took the only two chairs at the top of the room, forcing a visibly irritated von der Leyen to perch on a sofa in the background facing Turkey’s foreign minister.
Her spokesman said on Wednesday: “The president expects that the institution that she represents to be treated with the required protocol and she has therefore asked her team to take all appropriate contacts in order to ensure that such an incident does not occur in the future.
“Our president is a member of the European Council in her own right and normally when she goes to foreign countries she was treated in exactly the same way as the president of the European Council.”
Von der Leyen decided to carry on regardless and not react by walking out. One of the issues that was discussed was women’s rights, after Turkey withdrew from a treaty on gender-based violence.
She said in a press conference that her first meeting with Erdoğan had been “interesting,” adding “I am deeply worried by the fact that Turkey withdraws from the Istanbul convention. This is about protecting women and protecting children from the threat of violence.”