Turkish leader Recep Tayyip Erdogan‘s meeting on Tuesday with the European Union’s two presidents has raised eyebrows after European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen appeared to be left standing while her male counterparts settled into two gilded chairs at the focal point of the room. In a video of the awkward moment in Ankara, von der Leyen seems unsure of where to sit, gestures with her right hand and says “ehm” as Erdogan and European Council President Charles Michel take their seats. Von der Leyen was eventually offered a seat on a nearby sofa, opposite Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu, who occupies a lower-status rank in diplomatic protocol. In previous meetings the three presidents have all sat together.
Eric Mamer, the chief spokesperson for the European Commission, said von der Leyen “was clearly surprised and that is something which you can see from the video.” He added that “it’s difficult to judge the reasons why she was offered one type of seat rather than another, that’s something which you’d have to ask the Turkish authorities about.”