European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen sees “no justification” for how she was treated recently during a visit to Turkish President Erdogan.
“I felt hurt and alone,” said the German in the European Parliament about the riot in Ankara that has become known as ‘sofagate’. She was directed to a bank in front of the cameras while her travelling companion, EU president Charles Michel, took a seat next to Erdogan.
In previous visits to Erdogan by men with the same position as Von der Leyen, they were allowed to sit next to the Turkish leader.
“I am the first woman to chair the committee and expect to be treated as chair,” said a still visibly angry von der Leyen in a debate on Turkey. “There is nothing about it in the EU treaties, so I conclude that it was because I am a woman. It is not about seating or protocol; this goes much further and shows how far we are” from the equal treatment of men and women. . “And I am in a position to make my voice heard, but every day in every corner of the world, there are girls and women who cannot. Where there are no cameras recording incidents.”
She announced that she would introduce legislation this year to prevent and combat offline and online violence against women and children in the EU. “We must ensure that women and girls are adequately protected.”
In his own words, Charles Michel did not intervene during the Ankara incident to prevent a diplomatic scandal. He apologized for the situation in the EU parliament but was nevertheless beaten by many parliamentarians.
Michel said deepening the relationship between the EU and Turkey is “difficult” if Turkey does not respect human rights. The country also recently dropped out of the Istanbul Convention, an international treaty on preventing violence against women and domestic violence.