In relation to the “sofagate” regarding the protocol treatment of Ursula von der Leyen, the chairman of the European Union Commission, during their visit to Turkey, mutual allegations continue. The European Union Council on Thursday published a note in Ankara describing the plan for a meeting with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Accordingly, the European Union’s advance delegation had no access to the room in which Von der Leen and the President of the European Union Council, Charles Michel, later held talks.
“There was a brief tour of the campus,” Memo says. The conference room was “not accessible despite our requests” because it was “considered too close to President Erdogan’s office”. Otherwise, the European Union side would have suggested that von der Leyen should be given “one out of courtesy” like Michel and that there should be no place on the couch.
So representatives of the European Union became active in the dining room, who were granted access at short notice. There, at his request, “three chairs for VIPs have been adjusted in size in favor of the Commission Chairman”. Furthermore, it was Michel, the chairman of the EU Council who suggested the inclusion of von der Leyen in the official picture of the meeting.
In relation to the ranking of the two presidents, the memo refers to an agreement between the heads of the EU Treaty and the Protocol of Institutions. According to this, “the Protocol for Third Countries clearly distinguishes between the position of Head of State by the President of the European Council and the position of Head of Government held by the Chairman of the Commission”. This “may be the cause of the problem”.
The “Sofaget” episode has triggered widespread criticism and accusations of misconduct against the Turkish government. For its part, the Turkish government blamed the European Union for the incident. Foreign Minister Mewalt Cavusoglu said that the seating arrangement was set “according to the proposal of the European Union”. He described Turkey’s criticism as “unfair”.