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 out a 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 accessible 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 accessible seats
The incident passed off 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 1 aspect and uttered an audible ‘ahem’ as Michel and Erdogan took the one two accessible 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 determination 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 rapidly identified that in earlier conferences in Turkey when each EU representatives have been male, each have been supplied seats.
Anakara insisted that the EU’s personal protocol requests have been utilized throughout the assembly on the Turkish presidential palace.
However Mr Michel mentioned late on Wednesday that the embarrassment was the results of the ‘strict interpretation’ by Turkish companies of protocol guidelines, and he regretted ‘the differentiated, even diminished, remedy of the president of the European Fee’.
He mentioned 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 rules of respect which I maintain so pricey,’ he mentioned. ‘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 complete two-and-a-half hour assembly, whereas von der Leyen sat on the couch.
Von der Leyen’s spokesman mentioned afterwards that Turkey had breached protocol by failing to supply her a chair, because it has performed to different male fee presidents prior 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 subsequently requested her group to take all acceptable contacts in an effort to be certain 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 lads 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 have been male, each have been supplied seats. Pictured: Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, heart, 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 at the moment after footage of the second went viral on social media.
‘The necessary 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 mentioned, including that Von der Leyen was stunned by the preparations.
Turkish overseas minister Mevlut Cavusoglu later mentioned 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 mentioned.
‘The protocol utilized throughout its (worldwide) conferences is in step with worldwide protocol guidelines in addition to the world-renowned Turkish hospitality traditions.’
Mr Cavusoglu insisted that Turkish and EU officers accountable for protocol had held conferences previous to the go to and that the association was in step with EU requests.
‘The protocol that was utilized throughout 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 step with the ideas of the EU aspect. Interval,’ he mentioned.
The Turkish minister added that he felt obliged to put the blame on the EU publicly following accusations towards Turkey from even ‘the very best ranges of the EU’.
EU Fee chief spokesman Eric Mamer mentioned 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 mentioned, including that Ms von der Leyen had requested her group to make contacts be certain that the incident isn’t repeated sooner or later.
Mr Mamer additionally mentioned Ms von der Leyen’s protocol group didn’t journey to Turkey together 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 have 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 aimed toward combatting violence towards 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 determination to withdraw from the Istanbul Conference.
‘Human rights points are non-negotiable. We have been very clear about that. We urge Turkey to reverse its determination as a result of it’s the first worldwide binding instrument to fight violence towards girls and youngsters,’ she mentioned.
Requested whether or not the fee regarded the incident as particularly gender-related, Mamer mentioned Von der Leyen traveled to Ankara because the president of an EU establishment.
European Fee President Ursula von der Leyen arrives for a joint news convention after talks with Turkey´s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, in Ankara
‘Being a person or a girl doesn’t change something to the truth that she ought to have been seated in keeping with the exact same protocol preparations as the 2 different members,’ Mamer mentioned.
‘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 gasoline 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 season 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 mentioned work may start on deeper commerce ties and on offering more cash 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 mentioned at the moment that Turkey had breached diplomatic protocol
‘In Ankara, prepared with (von der Leyen) to begin dialogue with (Erdogan) on the way forward for EU-Turkey relations,’ Michel mentioned 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 could deliver EU candidate Turkey into the interior market of the world’s largest buying and selling bloc and permit unhindered circulate of products and companies.
Erdogan has downplayed EU membership lately and few analysts see it as imminent.
The EU chiefs, who final held in-person talks with Erdogan a yr in the past, have been anticipated to current Ankara with three choices if the maritime de-escalation continues, together with bettering financial ties, a formulation to assist the greater than four million refugees in Turkey, and methods to extend contacts.
‘We’re now not in an emergency state of affairs so that is extra about working for a longer-term perspective,’ an EU official mentioned.
On the summit final month, the EU additionally warned Ankara of sanctions if it restarts power 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 basic 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 greatest get together, the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Occasion.
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