Sleeping badly after the ‘Sofagate’ in Turkey, EU chief says

Charles Michel, the President of the European Council is suffering from bad night sleeps over the seating arrangements which forced Ursula von der Leyen, the President of the European Commission to sit on a sofa, several metres away from Michel and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in their meeting in Ankara this week, Reuters reported on Saturday.

“I make no secret of the fact that I haven’t slept well at night since because the scenes keep replaying in my head,” Michel told the German newspaper Handelsblatt, Reuters said.

“If it was possible, I would go back and fix it,” Reuters cited Michel as saying.

Ursula von der Leyen was left standing without a chair at a top-level EU meeting with Erdoğan on Tuesday.

Von der Leyen, the head of the EU’s executive arm, stood visibly perplexed as Erdoğan and Michel settled into two gilded Ottoman-style chairs flanked by EU and Turkish flags at the presidential palace in Ankara.

“Em?” was her response as she looked at Erdoğan and Michel questioningly.

After an awkward moment of silence, von der Leyen, the first female president of the European Commission, was offered a seat on a beige sofa four metres away. 

Following the stir of criticism in the aftermath of the incident, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu said on Thursday that the seating arrangements were made in line with the EU’s wishes, rejecting the blame.

Von der Leyen and Michel were in Ankara to hold talks with Erdoğan during a low point in Turkey’s relations with the European Union.