BRUSSELS. In Brussels they dubbed it the «sofagate» complete with a hashtag for social media. On the other hand, the wrong committed by the Turkish president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, but also by the president of the European Council, Charles Michel, against the president of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, left without a chair at the reception in the Palace of Ankara. the head of the delegation of the Democratic Party to the European Parliament, Brando Benifei, writes on Twitter: “President von der Leyen should have gone, thus also avenging Turkish women, whose rights are now under attack”. Benifei also defines “shameful the attitude of Charles Michel, who does not seem to have lifted a finger.”
The video of her standing without a dedicated or indicated seat – while the two men sat down on the two almost careless central armchairs – is already the most viewed and discussed part of the summit. “Er,” was the silent but indignant reaction of von der Leyen who, with a nod, wanted to ask for explanations and receive directions on where to sit. She was then assigned a sofa three meters away, in front of the Turkish Foreign Minister, Mevlut Cavusoglu, downgrading her according to diplomatic protocol and, above all, as a woman.
An episode “that the president did not like at all,” said EU sources who now accuse Michel of not having been up to the moment. The gesture was one more reason that led von der Leyen, in his conversation with the Turkish head of state, to insist on the Istanbul Convention and respect for human rights, especially for women.
The next day, outrage broke out in Brussels. “Let’s face it, someone should be ashamed of the lack of a suitable place for Ursula von der Leyen in Erdogan’s palace. The EU has signaled openness to dialogue, but we are firm on our values. Women deserve the same recognition as their male colleagues, ”wrote the EPP, the main political formation in the European Parliament, in a tweet.