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Awkward: EU president snubbed in chair gaffe during talks with Turkey’s Erdogan

With only two chairs available, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen sat on the sofa as Turkish President Recep Erdogan and European Council President Charles Michel sat on the chairs.

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Ursula von der Leyen was forced to perch awkwardly on a sofa while a fellow EU official and Turkey’s president took prime positions. Source: APTN

The two EU officials met with Erdogan in Ankara yesterday.

After the talks, von der Leyen and Michel said they used a meeting to insist any moves on the bloc's part to enhance EU-Turkey relations would be conditional on Turkey improving its record on human rights and the rule of law.

They said they also made clear that a “stable and secure environment” for EU members Cyprus and Greece is another prerequisite for closer ties with Turkey.

The meeting comes weeks after the Turkish leader took conciliatory steps toward the EU and European leaders agreed to increase trade and improve cooperation with Turkey on migration.

EU leaders agreed to offer Turkey new incentives despite ongoing concerns about the country’s backslide on democratic and human rights, and its energy ambitions in the Mediterranean Sea.

Turkey is formally a candidate for EU membership, but its bid to join the 27-nation bloc is at a standstill.

Erdogan’s efforts at reconciliation followed a flare-up of tensions last year over Turkey’s decision to stop deterring migrants from crossing its border into Greece, as well as over the dispatching of Turkish research ships into waters claimed by Greece and Cyprus.