‘Sofagate’: EU-Turkey diplomatic scandal snowballs

Anger grows after male leaders pictured taking chairs, leaving blindsided von der Leyen standing earlier than being ushered to a settee.

European Union legislators on Thursday known as for the bloc’s high two officers to clarify a snowballing diplomatic scandal that noticed European Fee head Ursula von der Leyen left with out a chair at current talks with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

The furore – dubbed “sofagate” on-line – has sparked a slew of accusations over Ankara’s perspective to ladies and the EU, sexism in Brussels, and inner political wrangling between the bloc’s establishments.

All of it centred on an ungainly second firstly of talks between von der Leyen, European Council President Charles Michel and Erdogan in Ankara on Tuesday.

Whereas the 2 male leaders took the one two chairs, a blindsided von der Leyen was left standing earlier than being ushered to a close-by couch.

“EU-Turkey relations are essential. However EU unity and respect for human rights, together with ladies’s rights, are additionally key,” Spanish MEP Iratxe Garcia Perez, the top of the Socialist & Democrats grouping in parliament, wrote on Twitter.

She mentioned she had requested for a dialog with Von der Leyen and Michel “to make clear what occurred and easy methods to respect the EU establishments”.

That decision was echoed by the chief of the conservative European Individuals’s Social gathering parliamentary bloc, Manfred Weber, who instructed information web site Politico the journey to Ankara had turn out to be “an emblem of disunity” between the EU’s high officers.

The assembly with Erdogan got here at a fragile second because the EU and Turkey look to rebuild ties rocked by renewed tensions final 12 months.

Von der Leyen, the primary feminine head of the European Fee, burdened Brussels’s considerations over ladies’s rights after Erdogan withdrew from the Istanbul Conference on stopping violence in opposition to ladies and youngsters.

Her spokesman hit out on the diplomatic fake pas however mentioned she had pressed on with addressing the thorny concern of ties with Ankara slightly than strolling out of the assembly.

Turkey’s International Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu deflected blame from Ankara and mentioned the seating preparations had been made “according to the EU suggestion. Interval.”

Michel drew flak in Brussels for seeming to not assist his colleague and readily accepting the one accessible seat.

In a Fb submit, he insisted “nothing is farther from the truth or my deepest emotions” and mentioned the “regrettable” scene was right down to a Turkish protocol blunder.

The scandal drew complaints from throughout Europe over what was seen as solely the newest instance of bungled EU international coverage efforts.

“These are photos that damage. I don’t need a naive Europe,” France’s Europe minister, Clement Beaune, mentioned.

“We’re coping with interlocutors who know the worth of symbols. We’ve got to be far more agency.”

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