European Commission’s first female president left without chair as male official sits for meeting with Erdogan

Gender equality points took middle stage Wednesday in Brussels a day after Ursula von der Leyen, one the EU’s strongest executives, was handled like a second-rank official throughout a go to to Ankara.

Von der Leyen — the European Commission president — and European Council chief Charles Michel visited Turkey on Tuesday for talks with Turkish chief Recep Tayyip Erdogan specializing in the EU-Turkey relations. After they had been led in a giant room for discussions with Erdogan, TV pictures confirmed that solely two chairs had been specified by entrance of the EU and the Turkish flags for the three leaders.

Michel and Erdogan took the chairs as von der Leyen stood each males, expressing her astonishment with a “ehm” and a gesture of disappointment. Von der Leyen ultimately sat on a big beige couch, away from her male counterparts.

According to an EU supply, the assembly between the three leaders lasted greater than two hours and a half.

“The important thing is that the president should have been seated exactly in the same manner as 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.

“She decided to proceed nevertheless, prioritizing substance over protocol, but nevertheless let me stress that the president expects that the institution that she represents to be treated with the required protocol, and she has therefore asked her team to take all appropriate contacts in order to ensure that such an incident does not occur in the future,” Mamer mentioned.

He added that Von der Leyen’s protocol group didn’t journey to Turkey along with her because of the coronavirus pandemic. There was no instant remark from the Turkish presidency.

Michel mentioned the embarrassment was the results of the “strict interpretation” by Turkish providers of protocol guidelines and regretted “the differentiated, even diminished, treatment of the president of the European Commission”.

In a press release launched late Wednesday, Michel mentioned that though TV pictures may have given the impression he was “insensitive” to Von der Leyen’s uncomfortable state of affairs, “nothing could be further from reality, nor from (his) deepest feelings”.

The diplomatic incident was abundantly commented on social media. European lawmaker Sophie in ‘t Veld posted pictures of previous meetings 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”.

Ehm is the new term for ‘that’s not how EU-Turkey relationship should be’,” mentioned Sergey Lagodinsky, one other member of the European Parliament.

Last month, Erdogan pulled Turkey out of a key European conference aimed 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 girls are on the rise.

Von der Leyen referred to as for Erdogan to reverse his resolution to withdraw from the Istanbul Convention.

“Human rights issues are non-negotiable. We were very clear about that. We urge Turkey to reverse its decision because it is the first international binding instrument to combat violence against women and children,” she mentioned.

Asked 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.

“Being a man or a woman does not change anything to the fact that she should have been seated according to the very same protocol arrangements as the two other participants,” Mamer mentioned, including, “She seized the opportunity to specifically tackle the Istanbul convention and women’s rights. I believe that the message sent was clear.”

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