A Tiny Thaw? – EU Boss Snubbed by ‚Sexist‘ Erdogan in Turkey Meeting While MEPs Mull Fresh Sanctions

Written by | Thursday, April 8th, 2021

The game of musical chairs between EU bosses – Ursula von der Leyen and Charles Michel –and their host Turkish president Recep Erdo?an has sparked widespread criticism – not only of Erdo?an but also of Michel. The European Commission hit out Wednesday (7 April) at a diplomatic snub that left its head without a chair as male counterparts sat down at a meeting with Turkish president. Video from Tuesday’s encounter in Ankara showed von der Leyen flummoxed as the Turkish leader and European Council president Charles Michel took the only two chairs in front of their flags. “Erm,” muttered the former German defence minister, appearing unsure where to go. The EU executive said its president should be treated on an equal footing with the president of the European Council. “The president of the commission was clearly surprised,” spokesman Eric Mamer said, insisting von der Leyen should have been treated “exactly in the same manner” as Michel. Also many on social media have criticised the ‘sexist’ seating arrangement during the meeting in Ankara
The Turkish leader angered Brussels ahead of the visit by the bloc’s chiefs by announcing he was withdrawing Turkey from the global Istanbul Convention on preventing violence against women and children. EU says it wants better ties with Ankara, but human rights are the ‘priority’. During their first meeting in a year with Erdogan, the EU‘s two top officials expressed “deep worries” about human rights in Turkey while voicing hope for stronger ties. Speaking after the meeting with Erdogan, von der Leyen stressed that “human rights issues are non-negotiable”. “I am deeply worried about the fact that Turkey withdrew from the Istanbul Convention” she said. “This is about protecting women, and protecting children against violence, and this is clearly the wrong signal right now.” Spokesman Mamer said that the problem surrounding von der Leyen’s seating during the meeting with Erdogan had “sharpened her focus on the issue”.
Meanwhile, several members of the the European Parliament have urged the EU to impose fresh sanctions on Turkey in protest at the country’s alleged human rights violations. EPP member Loucas Fourlas and Socialist Costas Mavrides are among those backing calls for the Union to take immediate steps to impose new sanctions on Turkey. An alliance of rights groups, called StopErdoganNow, has drafted an open letter to EU High Representative Josep Borrell, signed by MEPs and partner human rights and community organisations, demanding that he presses the European Council to “impose tough sanctions on Turkey.” The calls have taken on a fresh impetus following what is seen as the latest crackdown on human rights in Turkey. On top of Erdogan‘s threatening last week to ban Turkey’s third political party (HDP with 56 seats in the parliement out 600 seats) and having stripped a prominent legislator and human rights advocate of his parliamentary seat, Turkish leader also said he would withdraw from the Istanbul Convention.

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