Written Question: EU response to the ‘sofa-gate’ incident in Ankara

(Source: European Parliament)

Date submitted: 8 April 2021

Question for written answer E-001894/2021/rev.1
to the Council
Rule 138
Hilde Vautmans (Renew)

Subject: EU response to the ‘sofa-gate’ incident in Ankara

On 6 April 2021, Charles Michel and Ursula von der Leyen, Presidents of the European Council and European Commission respectively, were visiting Ankara for top-level talks with Turkish President Erdoğan on deepening relations with Turkey. The occasion was marred by a diplomatic gaffe which left President von der Leyen with nowhere to sit alongside the Turkish President, where European Council President Michel was already seated. This incident shows that, despite four months of de-escalation efforts, the visit to Turkey was clearly premature, and also raises questions about the level of respect Erdoğan is willing to show women in particular and the EU in general. It has also undermined the standing of the EU and its credibility as a geopolitical force and rule-setter. In view of this:

  1. What conclusions does the Council draw from this incident? Will it affect the favourable overtures that the EU has already made to Turkey?
  2. What measures will the Council take to prevent any recurrence of incidents of this kind, stand up for EU statesmanship at top diplomatic levels and make the EU’s international diplomacy more effective?
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