Von der Leyen stood staring at them, gestured with her right hand and appeared to say "um" or "ehm."
She was ultimately offered a beige couch about 12 feet away, opposite Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu, who occupies a lower-status rank in typical diplomatic protocol.
" ‘Ehm’ is the new term for ‘that’s not how EU-Turkey relationship should be’. #GiveHerASeat #EU #Turkey #womensrights," tweeted Sergey Lagodinsky, a German member of the European Parliament, who is chair of the legislature’s delegation to a joint E.U.-Turkish parliamentary committee.
"It wasn’t a coincidence it was deliberate," she wrote on Twitter, where some people explained away the incident as more about social distancing than protocol. "Why was @eucopresident silent?" she wrote, using Michel’s Twitter handle to ask why he didn’t offer his fancier seat to his counterpart.