Thursday (April 8th): Von der Leyen’s … Ehm… Sofagate

Name? Ursula von der Leyen

Westphalian identity? European

Age? 62Why is she in the news? President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen and Charles Michel, President of the European Council, visited President Erdogan in Turkey yesterday. Awkwardly, the two men in the room took place on two chairs and left von der Leyen standing on the side and then sitting on a sofa.

Why do we care? Because it is 2021 and this somehow still happens? Facing the situation, von der Leyen reacted with “Ehm,” and left it at that. The EU and Turkey tried to revive their relations and talk about women’s rights in Turkey after Erdogan announced Turkey’s withdrawal from the Istanbul Convention. Whether this was intentional or accidental, it does not send a good sign to Turkey’s women. 

Why should you care? According to diplomatic protocol, von der Leyen and Michel both have Head of State status. Apparently von der Leyen’s protocol team did not attend the preparation of the event due to Covid restrictions. The team of Charles Michel, who, by the way, did not even attempt to give his place up to von der Leyen, did attend….The fact that this still happens should make you care 10/10.

Who else cares? The top military officers in Turkey who were sentenced to life for the involvement in the coup 5 years ago which helped Erdogan’s surge in power. Combining their sentences to life and von der Leyen’s Sofagate, it seems questionable whether Erdogan really wants to revive relations with Europe; leaving no chance for the officers to walk free again. 

Any further comments? Props to von der Leyen for only reacting with “Ehm,” and then preferring to proceed to the matters of substance. However, the ignorance of Erdogan and the inaction of Michel are more telling than we think about the lack of recognition for female presence, let alone authority.

Joshua Dario Hasenstab

General Coordinator