Ursula von der Leyen left standing in assembly with Turkey’s Erdogan

Von der Leyen stood looking at them, gestured along with her proper hand and appeared to say “um” or “ehm.”

She was in the end provided a beige sofa about 12 toes away, reverse Turkish Overseas Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu, who occupies a lower-status rank in typical diplomatic protocol.

Von der Leyen “was clearly stunned, and that’s one thing which you’ll see from the video,” her spokesman Eric Mamer stated Wednesday, confirming the displeasure of the chief who’s the primary girl to carry her place. She “ought to have been seated in precisely the identical method because the president of the European Council and the Turkish president.”

Mamer stated the fault lay with the Turkish officers who ready the room.

Von der Leyen, stunned by her couch seat, selected to proceed with the substance of the assembly slightly than demanding a right away repair, Mamer stated.

However “not making a problem out of one thing in public is just not the identical factor as saying that it has no significance,” he stated.

After two days of silence from the Turkish aspect, a senior Turkish official stated Thursday that the European aspect merely did not request equal therapy for von der Leyen.

“Normal protocol was adopted in the course of the go to,” the official stated, talking on the situation of anonymity to debate the protocol preparations. “The president of the European Fee was not handled otherwise. The E.U. delegation didn’t request a distinct association, both. In this kind of scenario, we’d count on the 2 friends to make an association amongst themselves.”

Within the difficult world of diplomatic protocol, Michel’s place outranks von der Leyen’s. When the 2 leaders collectively meet others, Michel is greeted first and leads the discussions on behalf of the European Union, a scenario that ends in the male president getting the primary handshake and the feminine president trailing behind. Other than that distinction, the leaders are sometimes — however not at all times — proven the identical respect, based on von der Leyen’s predecessor, Jean-Claude Juncker, who informed Politico Europe on Wednesday that he additionally had typically been relegated to the couch seat.

Michel stated he and von der Leyen had chosen to press ahead with the assembly’s agenda, which included girls’s rights.

“The strict interpretation by the Turkish providers of the principles of protocol produced a distressing scenario,” he wrote on Fb late Wednesday. “The few photographs that have been proven seemed that I used to be insensitive to this case. Nothing is farther from actuality.”

Public outrage was fast and sharp. 

“ ‘Ehm’ is the brand new time period for ‘that’s not how EU-Turkey relationship needs to be’. #GiveHerASeat #EU #Turkey #womensrights,” tweeted Sergey Lagodinsky, a German member of the European Parliament who chairs the legislature’s delegation to a joint E.U.-Turkish parliamentary committee.

One other member of the European Parliament, Dutch lawmaker Sophie in ‘t Veld, famous that at conferences between Erdogan and the prior pair of E.U. presidents, who have been each males, the three leaders have been seated subsequent to at least one one other, in equal chairs.

“It wasn’t a coincidence it was deliberate,” she wrote on Twitter, the place some folks defined away the incident as extra about social distancing than protocol.

Critics had already been taking goal on the go to, which got here two weeks after Erdogan pulled Turkey out of a global treaty geared toward stopping violence towards girls referred to as the Istanbul Conference. Erdogan allies stated the transfer didn’t imply that girls’s rights have been being downgraded.

As head of the European Fee, von der Leyen leads the E.U.’s govt wing and oversees the bloc’s membership negotiations with Turkey, that are on life help. Michel represents the leaders of the 27 particular person member nations of the E.U.

Earlier than the episode of chair-and-sofa diplomacy, the three leaders posed for footage standing collectively, von der Leyen to Erdogan’s left and Michel to his proper in a extra commonplace illustration of their standing. Solely afterward did von der Leyen appear to get ushered to the aspect.

The official E.U. video was shot from behind von der Leyen, exhibiting the scene enjoying out from her perspective.

After the assembly, von der Leyen made no direct point out of the incident. However she did specific concern about Turkey’s report on girls’s rights.

“I’m deeply apprehensive about the truth that Turkey withdrew from the Istanbul Conference,” she informed reporters. “That is about defending girls and defending youngsters towards violence. And that is clearly the flawed sign proper now.”

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