protocol quarrel against the backdrop of rivalry between European officials

protocol quarrel against the backdrop of rivalry between European officials
protocol quarrel against the backdrop of rivalry between European officials

The difference in treatment between the President of the European Commission and the President of the European Council during a meeting in Ankara with the Turkish President provoked many indignant reactions. The Turkish authorities claim to have respected the protocol.

It is unfair“: this is how Turkey – through the voice of its Minister of Foreign Affairs – reacted Thursday April 8 to the accusations of knowingly wanting to humiliate the President of the European Commission Ursula Von der Leyen by relegating her to a sofa – an “Ottoman” – as European Council President Charles Michel and Turkish President Erdogan faced each other in two armchairs for a nearly three-hour discussion in Ankara.

According to the head of Turkish diplomacy, Mevlut Cavusoglu, the rules of protocol of the European Union were well followed: “EU requests have been respected. This means that the seating arrangement was made at their request. Our protocol services met before the meeting and their (EU) requests were met“, he declared on the occasion of a press conference. In this case, it is the services of the ambassador of the European Union in Turkey which ensured the adjustment of the organization of the interview between Recep Tayyip Erdogan and the two European officials. And the protocol hierarchy was indeed strictly respected since from a protocol point of view, the President of the European Council Charles Michel has a certain precedence over the President of the Ursula Von der Leyen Commission.

Moreover Charles Michel recognizes it in a reaction posted Wednesday evening on his Facebook page, the Turks are to blame only by excess of zeal: “Despite a clear desire to do the right thing, the strict interpretation by the Turkish services of the rules of protocol has produced a distressing situation: the differentiated, even reduced, treatment of the President of the European Commission“, he writes. On Wednesday, however, Commission spokesperson Eric Mamer affirmed that”the protocol rank of the President is exactly the same as that of the President of the European Council“. And the bell on the Commission side remained the same Thursday. According to this interpretation, the protocol precedence of the President of the Council over that – or that – of the Commission only applies to the order of greetings:”At the Commission, it is considered that (…) the order of precedence wants us to greet Charles Michel before Ursula von der Leyen on their arrival on the steps, but it does not call into question the equality of rank of the two rulers, under which they should be placed in the same way“, argued in the Brussels press.

Denied by the example of Jean-Claude Juncker a few hours later: the former President of the Commission clearly recognizes the protocol precedence of the President of the European Council over that of the Commission and stresses that he was willingly bending to this hierarchy protocol.

In short: the storm around what has been called the Sofagate on social networks seems to be above all European-European, against a backdrop of muffled rivalry between the presidents of the various European institutions. It must be said that there are many. Moreover, we should not forget the third European president, that of the Parliament, who could put everyone in agreement: in the protocol order in any case it is he who, normally, occupies the first place. He is also the only one of the three European presidents to have been elected.

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