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EU leaders were left embarrassed when Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen was relegated to a sofa during a meeting with Turkey’s Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Ankara on Tuesday, while her Council counterpart Charles Michel was allowed to sit at the president’s side.
Mrs von der Leyen and the former Belgian prime minister Mr Michel met Mr Erdogan to discuss the EU’s refugee deal and Turkey’s relationship with Brussels, but the optics of their meeting are now the only thing anyone is talking about.
During the meeting of the three leaders, Mrs von der Leyen - the first female president of the Commission - was left visibly perplexed as Mr Michel and Mr Erdogan took the only two chairs available in the centre of the room.
Sod the media and their fakery.
On Thursday Draghi told reporters: “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 added: “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.”
Soon after, the Italian ambassador to Ankara was summoned to the foreign ministry, Turkey’s state-owned Anadolu news agency reported, and foreign minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu slammed the remarks.