There’s no shame in sitting on the sofa.
Former European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker waded into #Sofagate on Wednesday, playing down the significance of a Turkish snub to his successor.
The incident occurred during a meeting between European Council President Charles Michel, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in Ankara on Tuesday. After the three leaders gathered, Michel was offered the seat next to Erdoğan, leaving von der Leyen standing awkwardly before retreating to a nearby couch.
The diplomatic snafu unleashed a social media firestorm and accusations of sexism.
Yet Juncker said that when he travelled with the European Council presidents during his time at the helm of the Commission, it was “clear for everyone that, from a protocol point of view, the president of the Council is No. 1, and the president of the Commission is No. 2.”
“When I was traveling with [Donald] Tusk or [Herman] Van Rompuy, I always respected that protocol order,” Juncker told POLITICO in a phone interview, referring to the two former Council presidents. “Normally I had a chair next to the chair of the president of the Council, but sometimes it happened that I was sitting on a sofa.”
Nevertheless, the former Commission chief suggested that von der Leyen should have been treated differently.
“I think it would have been better to have her sitting at the same level” as Michel, “but from a protocol point of view the president of the Council is No. 1.”
Asked if he believes the episode in Ankara merits a controversy, the former president was dismissive.
“There are more important controversies than that one,” he said.
Source: POLITICO https://www.politico.eu/article/juncker-tries-to-take-the-sting-out-of-sofagate/?utm_source=RSS_Feed&utm_medium=RSS&utm_campaign=RSS_Syndication