x

Politics

Ursula von der Leyen Snubbed in Chair Gaffe at EU-Erdogan Talks (Video)

BRUSSELS — Gender equality issues took center stage Wednesday in Brussels a day after Ursula von der Leyen, one the EU's most powerful executives, was treated like a second-rank official during a visit to Ankara.

Von der Leyen — the European Commission president — and European Council chief Charles Michel visited Turkey on Tuesday for talks with Turkish leader Recep Tayyip Erdogan focusing on the EU-Turkey relations. After they were led in a big room for discussions with Erdogan, TV images showed that only two chairs had been laid out in front of the EU and the Turkish flags for the three leaders. 

Michel and Erdogan took the chairs as von der Leyen stood looking at both men, expressing her astonishment with a "ehm" and a gesture of disappointment. Von der Leyen eventually sat on a large beige sofa, away from her male counterparts.

 According to a EU source, the meeting between the three leaders lasted more 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 commission chief spokesman Eric Mamer said, adding that Von der Leyen was surprised by the arrangements.

"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 said.

He added that Von der Leyen's protocol team did not travel to Turkey with her due to the coronavirus pandemic. 

There was no immediate comment from the Turkish presidency or the European Council.

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 men sitting in chairs next to each other.

"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,' said Sergey Lagodinsky, another member of the European Parliament, using the hashtags #GiveHerASeat and #womensrights."

Last month, Erdogan pulled Turkey out of a key European convention aimed at combatting violence against women, triggering criticism from EU officials. The move was a blow to Turkey's women's rights movement, which says domestic violence and murders of women are on the rise.

Von der Leyen called for Erdogan to reverse his decision 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 said. 

Asked whether the commission regarded the incident as specifically gender-related, Mamer said Von der Leyen traveled to Ankara as the president of an EU institution.

"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 said. "She seized the opportunity to specifically tackle the Istanbul convention and women's rights. I believe that the message sent was clear."

RELATED

ATHENS - The Greek Foreign Affairs Ministry expressed "its deep regret" over the Russian government's decision on Monday to expel eight staff members of the Greek embassy and the consulate in Moscow as personae non gratae.

Top Stories

General News

FALMOUTH, MA – The police in Falmouth have identified the victim in an accident involving a car plunging into the ocean on February 20, NBC10 Boston reported.

General News

NEW YORK – Meropi Kyriacou, the new Principal of The Cathedral School in Manhattan, was honored as The National Herald’s Educator of the Year.

General News

PHILADELPHIA – The Federation of Hellenic Societies of Philadelphia and Greater Delaware Valley announced that the Evzones, the Presidential Guard of Greece will be participating in the Philadelphia Greek Independence Day Parade on March 20.

Video

Mission…to Alonnisos, a TNH Documentary

O oceanic you sing and sail White on your body and yellow on your chimeneas For you're tired of the filthy waters of the harbors You who loved the distant Sporades You who lifted the tallest flags You who sail clear through the most dangerous caves Hail to you who let yourself be charmed by the sirens Hail to you for never having been afraid of the Symplegades (Andreas Empeirikos)   What traveler has not been fascinated by the Greek islands, drawn by the Sirens’ song of a traveler’s dreams? TNH and our video show ‘Mission’ marked the change of the season by transporting viewers into the heart of summer.

Enter your email address to subscribe

Provide your email address to subscribe. For e.g. abc@xyz.com

You may unsubscribe at any time using the link in our newsletter.