‘Sofagate’: Brussels indignant as Turkey leaves EU chief von der Leyen standing

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The European Fee hit out Wednesday after its chief Ursula von der Leyen was left and not using a chair as Turkey’s president sat down for talks along with her male counterpart.

Video from Tuesday’s encounter in Ankara confirmed von der Leyen flummoxed as Recep Tayyip Erdogan and European Council president Charles Michel took two chairs in entrance of the EU and Turkish flags. 

“Ehm,” muttered the previous German defence minister, holding out her arms in obvious exasperation. 

Finally she was seated on a settee a little bit additional away from her counterparts, reverse Turkey‘s overseas minister — somebody under her within the pecking order of diplomatic protocol.

Von der Leyen, as president of the European Fee, is head of the EU government. Michel, president of the European Council, represents member state governments. Brussels expects each to be handled with the protocol reserved for a head of presidency.  

“The president of the fee was clearly shocked,” European Fee spokesman Eric Mamer stated, insisting von der Leyen ought to have been handled “precisely in the identical method” as Michel. 

“She does think about that these points are essential and have to be handled appropriately, which they clearly weren’t,” Mamer stated.

The fake pas — shortly dubbed “sofagate” on-line — got here at a fragile second because the EU and Turkey look to rebuild ties regardless of considerations over Ankara’s file on rights, together with discrimination towards girls. 

Erdogan angered Brussels forward of the go to by the bloc’s chiefs by saying he was withdrawing Turkey from the Istanbul Convention on stopping violence towards girls and youngsters.


Talking after the assembly with the Turkish chief, von der Leyen burdened that “human rights points are non-negotiable”. 

“I’m deeply anxious about the truth that Turkey withdrew from the Istanbul Conference” she stated. 

“That is about defending girls, and defending kids towards violence, and that is clearly the fallacious sign proper now.”

Spokesman Mamer stated that the issue surrounding von der Leyen’s seating throughout the assembly with Erdogan had “sharpened her deal with the difficulty”.

The perceived slight to the primary girl ever to occupy one of many EU’s prime two roles raised hackles again in Brussels. 

“First they withdraw from the Istanbul Conference and now they go away the President of European Fee and not using a seat in an official go to. Shameful. #WomensRights,” wrote Spanish European Parliament member Iratxe Garcia Perez. 

German MEP Sergey Lagodinsky wrote of von der Leyen’s utterance that “‘Ehm’ is the brand new time period for ‘that is not how EU-Turkey relationship ought to be’.”

However not all of the ire was directed on the Turkish aspect. 

Dutch MEP Sophie in ‘t Veld was left questioning why Michel was “silent” as his feminine colleague was left and not using a seat.

There was no fast remark from Michel’s spokesman or the Turkish presidency over the incident. 

Relations between Brussels and Ankara had been severely strained final 12 months as tensions spiralled over Turkish gasoline exploration within the jap Mediterranean. 

The EU is eyeing improved cooperation after a diplomatic offensive by Erdogan over the previous few months aimed toward mending ties between the neighbours. 

The bloc has been inspired by Turkey resuming talks with Greece over a disputed maritime border and strikes to restart peace efforts over divided EU member Cyprus. 

Brussels has shelved sanctions towards Ankara and is providing financial and diplomatic incentives — however insists Erdogan should keep the present calm and have interaction constructively on key points. 


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