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#SofaGate - When chairs remain reserved for men

This week, a diplomatic scandal unfolded at the high-level EU delegation meeting with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. When the President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, and the President of the Council, Charles Michel, arrived on Wednesday, the Turkish government had only provided two chairs in front of the European and Turkish flags. Michel then took the chair next to Erdoğan, and it became apparent that von der Leyen – understandably – disagreed with having to take a seat on a sofa.

At the Greek TV station Skai (from min. 3:30, see below) and in POLITICO I shared my opinion on this incident:

    1. The issue does not lie with von der Leyen. It lies with the two men who put her in this position.
    2. A meeting with Erdoğan in Turkey is the worst moment for playing good old macho politics.
    3. It is crucial that we talk to Turkey. Turkey is our neighbour; many Turks live in the EU - and many Europeans in Turkey. But in my opinion, a formal sign of support such as this official photo opportunity should not have been sent to Erdoğan at the present time, especially against the background of the repression of the HDP (pro-Kurdish "Halkların Demokratik Partisi") and Turkey's withdrawal from the Istanbul Convention.
    4. Human rights and democracy are two central pillars of Green policy, and especially of Green foreign policy. If the Greens will be part of the new German government, the soft line approach towards Turkey currently maintained by Christian Democrats and Social Democrats will most certainly come to an end in October.
    5. We have requested a plenary debate during which we will talk about the meeting. But we should also focus on the other issues that are important in relation to Turkey: Human rights, the situation of refugees, arms exports, Syria and the Istanbul Convention. We support all democratic forces and women's and human rights defenders in Turkey.

(For those who prefer reading to listening: POLITICO has also reported extensively on the éclat).

You can access the tweet by clicking on the photo above
You can access the tweet by clicking on the photo above

Hannah's contribution from min. 3.30:

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