A row has erupted between Turkey and the EU, with both sides blaming the opposite for Tuesday’s humiliating ‘Sofagate’ second that noticed Ursula von der Leyen left with no chair at a gathering to debate girls’s proper.
As Turkey’s president Recep Tayyip Erdogan and European Council chief Charles Michel took the 2 out there chairs, von der Leyen – the President of the European Fee – was left standing awkwardly, earlier than taking a seat on a settee.
Turkey strongly rejected accusations that it snubbed von der Leyen due to her gender, whereas European Council chief Charles Michel blamed Turkey – regardless of the actual fact he didn’t seem to supply his colleague his seat both.
Ursula von der Leyen was left irritated after being sidelined throughout talks between the EU and Turkey in Ankara on Tuesday after her two male counterparts took the one out there seats
The incident occurred in Ankara on Tuesday as Von der Leyen met with Erdogan, alongside her European colleague Michel.
Video confirmed how Von der Leyen was left standing to at least one aspect and uttered an audible ‘ahem’ as Michel and Erdogan took the one two out there seats – with neither providing her their chair even after she protested.
She was as a substitute left to perch on a close-by couch, positioned a distance from the 2 males, as they held the prolonged talks on Turkey’s relations with the EU, together with Erdogan’s choice to withdraw from a treaty defending girls’s rights.
The photographs drew intense criticism on social media and accusations of gender discrimination with a ‘sofagate’ hashtag trending. It was shortly identified that in earlier conferences in Turkey when each EU representatives had been male, each had been provided seats.
Anakara insisted that the EU’s personal protocol requests had been utilized in the course of the assembly on the Turkish presidential palace.
However Mr Michel stated late on Wednesday that the embarrassment was the results of the ‘strict interpretation’ by Turkish providers of protocol guidelines, and he regretted ‘the differentiated, even diminished, remedy of the president of the European Fee’.
He stated images of the assembly appeared that he was ‘detached’ to the state of affairs.
‘Nothing may very well be farther from the reality, or from my deeply held emotions – or certainly from the ideas of respect which I maintain so expensive,’ he stated. ‘On the time, whereas realising the regrettable nature of the state of affairs, we determined to not make issues worse by making a scene.’
Mr Michel stayed seated within the chair subsequent to Mr Edogan for the total two-and-a-half hour assembly, whereas von der Leyen sat on the couch.
Von der Leyen’s spokesman stated afterwards that Turkey had breached protocol by failing to supply her a chair, because it has completed to different male fee presidents up to now, however that she determined to ‘prioritize substance over protocol’ by staying.
However, the spokesman added, ‘let me stress that the president expects that the establishment that she represents to be handled with the required protocol, and he or she has due to this fact requested her workforce to take all acceptable contacts with a purpose to make sure that such an incident doesn’t happen sooner or later.’
Diplomatic protocol dictates that the EU fee president and council president, holding equal rank, must be seated in an equal method.
Von der Leyen, who may very well be heard uttering an irritated ‘ahem’ as the boys sat down, was left to perch on a close-by couch throughout two and a half hours of diplomatic talks
It was identified that in earlier conferences in Turkey when each EU representatives had been male, each had been provided seats. Pictured: Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, middle, sits collectively as he holds a gathering with then EU Fee President Jean-Claude Juncker, proper after which EU Council President Donald Tusk, left, Monday, November 16, 2015 (file photograph)
Not one of the leaders talked about the incident in press conferences held after the summit, however Von der Leyen’s spokesman opened up about it right now after footage of the second went viral on social media.
‘The essential factor is that the president ought to have been seated precisely in the identical method because the president of the European council and the Turkish president,’ EU fee chief spokesman Eric Mamer stated, including that Von der Leyen was stunned by the preparations.
Turkish international minister Mevlut Cavusoglu later stated Turkey had come beneath ‘extraordinarily unfair’ criticism over the go to and alleged slight proven to Ms von der Leyen.
‘Turkey is a deep-rooted state and this isn’t the primary time that it has hosted a customer,’ Mr Cavusoglu stated.
‘The protocol utilized throughout its (worldwide) conferences is in keeping with worldwide protocol guidelines in addition to the world-renowned Turkish hospitality traditions.’
Mr Cavusoglu insisted that Turkish and EU officers in command of protocol had held conferences previous to the go to and that the association was in keeping with EU requests.
‘The protocol that was utilized in the course of the narrow-scope assembly that was held at our president’s workplace met the requests of the EU aspect.
‘In different phrases, such a seating association was made in keeping with the recommendations of the EU aspect. Interval,’ he stated.
The Turkish minister added that he felt obliged to put the blame on the EU publicly following accusations in opposition to Turkey from even ‘the best ranges of the EU’.
EU Fee chief spokesman Eric Mamer stated on Wednesday that Ms von der Leyen was stunned by the association and that she ought to have been seated along with Mr Michel and Mr Erdogan.
‘She determined to proceed however, prioritising substance over protocol, however however let me stress that the president expects the establishment that she represents to be handled with the required protocol,’ Mr Mamer stated, including that Ms von der Leyen had requested her workforce to make contacts make sure that the incident just isn’t repeated sooner or later.
Mr Mamer additionally stated Ms von der Leyen’s protocol workforce didn’t journey to Turkey along with her because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Von der Leyen was in Turkey alongside EU council president Charles Michel (left) and Turkish president Erdogan (centre) to debate relations with the EU – together with on girls’s rights
Sophie in ‘t Veld, a European lawmaker, identified that Turkey has beforehand given chairs to each EU leaders throughout conferences the place all three had been male
The diplomatic incident was abundantly commented on social media.
European lawmaker Sophie in ´t Veld posted footage of earlier conferences between Michel´s and Von der Leyen´s predecessors with Erdogan, with the trio of males sitting in chairs subsequent to one another.
‘And no, it wasn´t a coincidence, it was deliberate,’ in ‘t Veld wrote on Twitter, questioning why Michel remained ‘silent.’
Final month, Erdogan pulled Turkey out of a key European conference geared toward combatting violence in opposition to girls, triggering criticism from EU officers.
The transfer was a blow to Turkey´s girls´s rights motion, which says home violence and murders of ladies are on the rise.
Von der Leyen known as for Erdogan to reverse his choice to withdraw from the Istanbul Conference.
‘Human rights points are non-negotiable. We had been very clear about that. We urge Turkey to reverse its choice as a result of it’s the first worldwide binding instrument to fight violence in opposition to girls and youngsters,’ she stated.
Requested whether or not the fee regarded the incident as particularly gender-related, Mamer stated Von der Leyen traveled to Ankara because the president of an EU establishment.
European Fee President Ursula von der Leyen arrives for a joint information convention after talks with Turkey´s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, in Ankara
‘Being a person or a lady doesn’t change something to the truth that she ought to have been seated based on the exact same protocol preparations as the 2 different members,’ Mamer stated.
‘She seized the chance to particularly sort out the Istanbul conference and ladies’s rights. I consider that the message despatched was clear.’
In the meantime Mr Michel used a post-meeting press convention to name on Turkey to resolve disputes with Greece and Cyprus over fuel rights within the Mediterranean.
A row between Turkey and EU members Greece and Cyprus over offshore jurisdiction has strained ties, reaching a peak final summer time when Turkish and Greek navy frigates escorted vessels exploring for hydrocarbons in disputed waters.
The European Union backs Athens, whereas Ankara has accused the bloc of bias and of not honouring its pledges beneath a 2016 migrant deal.
The go to by Michel and European Fee President Ursula von der Leyen follows an EU summit final month at which the bloc stated work may start on deeper commerce ties and on offering extra money for refugees in Turkey.
Regardless of issues over what some European leaders name current Turkish backsliding on human rights, the EU has applauded Ankara’s current withdrawal of vessels working in disputed waters and restarting talks with Greece.
Neither Von der Leyen nor Michel talked about the problem at a press convention afterwards, however a spokesman stated right now that Turkey had breached diplomatic protocol
‘In Ankara, prepared with (von der Leyen) to start out dialogue with (Erdogan) on the way forward for EU-Turkey relations,’ Michel stated on Twitter.
‘Sustained de-escalation is required to construct a extra constructive agenda.’
The EU final month opened the door to start updating a Customs Union as demanded by Ankara.
This is able to carry EU candidate Turkey into the interior market of the world’s largest buying and selling bloc and permit unhindered move of products and providers.
Erdogan has downplayed EU membership in recent times and few analysts see it as imminent.
The EU chiefs, who final held in-person talks with Erdogan a 12 months in the past, had been anticipated to current Ankara with three choices if the maritime de-escalation continues, together with bettering financial ties, a system to assist the greater than four million refugees in Turkey, and methods to extend contacts.
‘We’re not in an emergency state of affairs so that is extra about working for a longer-term perspective,’ an EU official stated.
On the summit final month, the EU additionally warned Ankara of sanctions if it restarts vitality exploration in disputed waters and voiced concern over Turkey’s human rights file.
Michel and Von der Leyen are anticipated in Ankara to emphasize that the EU is not going to approve nearer ties with out elementary rights being honoured.
Each the EU and america have criticised a transfer by Turkey to abruptly withdraw from a conference defending girls from violence, in addition to a authorized case to close down the third largest occasion, the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Occasion.