The European Commission on Wednesday struck a diplomatic thug who left his head without a chair to Ursula von der Leyen as male counterparts sat in a meeting with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
The video of Tuesday’s encounter in Ankara showed that von der Leyen placed only two chairs in front of his flag to Turkish leader and European Council President Charles Michel.
“Ehm,” pleaded with the former German defense minister, where there was uncertainty.
Eventually she was seated on a sofa a little away from her counterparts, unlike the Turkish foreign minister, who was below her in the Protocol Peking Order.
– Sergey Lagodinsky (@SLagodinsky) 6 April, 2021
“The chairman of the commission was clearly surprised,” said European Commission spokesman Eric Mammer, asserting von der Leyen should have been treated “in exactly the same way” as Michel.
“She believes these issues are important and need to be treated appropriately, which they clearly were not,” Mamer said.
Fox Pace – quickly dubbed “Sofgate” online – came at a fragile moment as the European Union and Turkey looked to re-build ties despite concerns over Ankara’s record over rights, including the protection of women.
Erdogan angered Brussels before the visit of the Brussels chiefs and announced that he was withdrawing Turkey from the Global Istanbul Conference to stop violence against women and children.
Speaking after the meeting with the Turkish leader, von der Leyen stressed that “human rights issues are non-negotiable”.
“I am very concerned about the fact that Turkey withdrew from the Istanbul conference” he said.
“It’s about protecting women, and protecting children against violence, and that’s clearly a wrong sign right now.”
Spokesman Mamer said that von der Leyen’s seating problem “focused his attention on the issue” during a meeting with Erdogan.
The first woman to occupy one of the top two roles in the European Union allegedly returned to Hackles in Brussels.
“Previously they withdrew from the Istanbul Convention and now they leave the President of the European Commission without a seat in an official visit. Embarrassing. #WomensRights,” Spanish European Parliament member Eratex García Perez wrote.
German MEP Sergei Lagodinsky wrote of von der Leyen’s statement that “‘Ehm’ is the new word for ‘there should not be an EU-Turkish relationship’.”
But not all ire was directed towards Turkey.
Dutch MEP Sophie’s ‘Tea Weld’ questioned why Michelle was “silent” as her female colleague was left without a seat.
(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and published from a syndicated feed.)