A diplomatic incident occurred Tuesday in Ankara, as the Turkish president received Ursula von der Leyen and Charles Michel.

The latter was allowed to sit alongside Recep Tayyip Erdogan while Ursula von der Leyen was unfairly relegated to an inferior protocol position.

MEPs are angry.

In France, the deputy PS Valérie Rabault speaks of humiliation.

It is an affront inflicted on Tuesday to the President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen.

With Charles Michel, the President of the European Council, she had a meeting with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Ankara.

The meeting was supposed to allow a warming of relations.

Except that what we will ultimately keep from this moment is this surreal image captured by TV cameras: Charles Michel was allowed to sit alongside the Turkish president, but not Ursula von der Leyen.

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Ursula von der Leyen forced to withdraw

After posing for the press in front of the photographers, Erdogan and the President of the European Council sit side by side, each in their respective chairs prepared for the meeting.

All this takes place in front of Ursula von der Leyen, distraught and taken aback, since she does not seem to know where to settle.

We hear her whisper, wonder, but the President of the European Commission has no other choice but to take a seat on the adjoining couch, behind the two men, as we can see in this video published by the


Ursula von der Leyen's spokesperson then explained that she decided to override immediately.

But she asked that this type of incident not be repeated in the future, recalling on this occasion that she and Charles Michel had the same protocol rank.

"If Europe wants to be credible, it must affirm its values"

This image caused a reaction, even to the French political class.

Valérie Rabault, leader of the Socialists in the National Assembly, for example, would have liked Charles Michel to give way to Ursula von der Leyen: "If Europe wants to be credible, it must also assert itself as a power and that it affirms its values. As long as it does not do so, it will struggle to have any real credibility in terms of diplomacy. There, we display divisions, we accept that Madame von der Leyen is humiliated in this way. This is unacceptable, "she lamented to Europe 1. Many French politicians also shared the video on Twitter. 

The incident also aroused the anger of many elected officials in Brussels, as Turkey has just withdrawn from the Istanbul convention which aims to combat violence against women.