'Dictator': Turkey and Italy get into spat after EU chief left without chair during equal rights talk

WION Web Team
Brussels Published: Apr 09, 2021, 07:44 AM(IST)

EU chief not offered her seat at women's rights discussion. Photograph:( Twitter )

Story highlights

An interesting thing is that the discussion was about women’s equal rights as Turkey had withdrawn from a convention on gender-based violence

The European Union’s first female chief, Ursula von der Leyen, was left speechless after the president of the European Council, Charles Michel, the former Belgian prime minister and Recep Tayyip Erdoğan took the chairs, one of which was supposed to be Ursula’s.

Ursula was left shocked and can also be heard using the expression of “Uhm?” in the videos. As Michel refused to show any evidence of regret, Von der Leyen had to settle at the second-rank seat on the sofa opposite Turkey’s foreign minister.


An interesting thing is that the discussion was about women’s equal rights as Turkey had withdrawn from a convention on gender-based violence.

Even after such disrespect, the German head did not walk away from the meeting and continued raising her voice for equal rights. “The president’s assertiveness was clearly on display in that she did not walk away from the meeting, she took part in the meeting, and played her full role,” her spokesperson said.

This act has been taken as a breaking of the protocol as the rules for European Council’s President are similar to those of any country’s president.

“The president of the commission was clearly surprised and that is something you can see from the video … The protocol level of our president is exactly the same as that of the president of the European council,” Von der Leyen’s spokesperson said. “The president expects that the institution that she represents to be treated with the required protocol and she has therefore asked her team to take all appropriate contacts in order to ensure that such an incident does not occur in the future.”

Shortly after this, Italy’s Prime Minister Mario Draghi has accused the Turkish leader of humiliating his EU counterpart and has also labelled him a “dictator”.

“I absolutely do not agree with Erdoğan’s behavior towards president Von der Leyen … I think it was not appropriate behavior and I was very sorry for the humiliation Von der Leyen had to suffer,” Draghi said.

“With these, let’s call them what they are – dictators – with whom one nonetheless has to coordinate, one has to be frank when expressing different visions and opinions,” he added.

Soon after his remarks, the Italian ambassador to Ankara was summoned. The foreign minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu also struck back at Italy’s remarks.

“We strongly condemn the appointed Italian prime minister Draghi’s unacceptable, populist discourse and his ugly and unrestrained comments about our elected president,” Çavuşoğlu tweeted.

Read in App