Charles Michel, the chairman of the council of EU government leaders, has been sleeping badly “out of shame” since Ursula von der Leyen, the European Commission president, was not given a suitable seat earlier this week when visiting the Turkish President Erdogan.
“I make no secret that I have not been able to sleep well since then because the images keep playing in my head,” said Michel. The EU president added that if he could turn back time and undo it, he would.
During the visit, von der Leyen was fobbed off with a seat on the bench opposite Erdogan’s foreign minister, far from Erdogan and Michel. The visibly displeased committee chairman asked for this in vain for attention. Michel was silent, and many blamed him for that. The affair has now been referred to as Suffragette.
Michel defended himself on Wednesday against the sharp criticism that he should have intervened. He did let us know on Facebook that the “harrowing situation” in which Von der Leyen ended up did not leave him indifferent.
But when they realized what an awkward state they were in, “we chose not to make it worse with a scene.” They wanted to prioritize the issues they wanted to discuss with Erdogan.