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 referred to as for the bloc’s prime two officers to clarify a snowballing diplomatic scandal that noticed European Commission head Ursula von der Leyen left with no chair at latest 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.
It all centred on an ungainly second in the beginning of talks between von der Leyen, European Council President Charles Michel and Erdogan in Ankara on Tuesday.
While 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 crucial. But EU unity and respect for human rights, including women’s rights, are also 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 clarify what happened and how to respect the EU institutions”.
That name was echoed by the chief of the conservative European People’s Party parliamentary bloc, Manfred Weber, who advised news website Politico the journey to Ankara had change into “a symbol of disunity” between the EU’s prime 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 Commission, careworn Brussels’s considerations over ladies’s rights after Erdogan withdrew from the Istanbul Convention on stopping violence towards ladies and kids.
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 Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu deflected blame from Ankara and mentioned the seating preparations have been made “in line with the EU suggestion. Period.”
Michel drew flak in Brussels for seeming to not assist his colleague and readily accepting the one obtainable seat.
In a Facebook publish, he insisted “nothing is further from the reality or my deepest feelings” and mentioned the “regrettable” scene was all the way down to a Turkish protocol blunder.
The scandal drew complaints from throughout Europe over what was seen as solely the most recent instance of bungled EU overseas coverage efforts.
“These are images that hurt. I don’t want a naive Europe,” France’s Europe minister, Clement Beaune, mentioned.
“We are dealing with interlocutors who know the value of symbols. We have to be much more firm.”