(dpa) – Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu on Thursday said President Recep Tayyip Erdogan received Ursula von der Leyen in line with “demands and suggestions from the EU side,” rejecting criticism that Ankara snubbed the EU leader.
Cavusoglu said the Turkish and EU sides agreed on the protocol ahead of Tuesday’s meeting with Erdogan.
“The seating arrangement was made in line with suggestions from the EU side,” Cavusoglu told a joint press conference with his Kuwaiti counterpart Ahmad Nasser Al-Mohammad Al-Sabah in Ankara.
Cavusoglu’s remarks came after the European Commission expressed disappointment that its president was relegated to a sofa on the side, while her counterpart from the European Council was offered the only chair next to Erdogan during their visit at the Turkish presidential palace.
The unequal seating arrangements prompted social media allegations of sexism or a purposeful affront against the commission.
Cavusoglu called the criticism against Turkey “very unfair,” adding the meeting was held “within the frame of international protocol rules and Turkish hospitality.”
“We would not put this so clearly if it wasn’t for the accusations,” the top Turkish diplomat added.
Cavusoglu described the meeting as “very productive”.
In a Facebook post late on Wednesday, Michel described the situation as “regrettable” and added the EU leaders decided to focus on the substance of the meeting rather than cause a “public incident”.