PARIS: France’s Europe Minister Clement Beaune said Sunday that Turkey had set a “trap” for European Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen by forcing her to sit off to the side on a visit to Ankara, in a photo-op faux pas quickly dubbed ‘sofagate’.

The Turkish presidency’s failure to place a chair for von der Leyen alongside President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and EU Council chief Charles Michel was “an insult from Turkey,” Beaune said on RTL television.

“Turkey behaved badly,” he added, calling it “a Turkish problem done deliberately towards us... we shouldn’t be stirring up guilt among Europeans”.

Von der Leyen’s being shunted aside prompted recriminations from European capitals to Turkey, but also within Brussels.

For its part, Ankara insists the incident was down to tangled wires between the Council and Commission, separate EU institutions.

Michel’s staff claimed they had no access to the meeting room before the Tuesday event, but also highlighted that the Council chief comes before the Commission president under strict international protocol.


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