Turkey criticized over treatment of EU leader

The treatment of the head of the European Commission during her visit to Turkey has stirred criticism in Europe.

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and European Council President Charles Michel held talks with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Turkey on Tuesday.

Two chairs had been set out for the three leaders. There was no chair for von der Leyen. She was apparently taken aback, but was later seated on a sofa, away from her male counterparts.

When her predecessor, Jean-Claude Juncker, visited Turkey along with the then-European Council chief six years ago, a chair had been prepared for Juncker, next to the one for Erdogan.

The apparent mistreatment of a female leader has caused an uproar in Europe. Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi on Thursday accused Erdogan of humiliating von der Leyen. He said it was important for him to be frank with "dictators."

Turkey hit back, saying the seating at the meeting had been arranged in accordance with a request from the EU side. Turkey's foreign ministry summoned Italy's ambassador to Ankara to protest.

There are concerns that the spat could escalate into a diplomatic row.