Controversy between Turkey and Italy after Erdogan’s rudeness to Ursula von der Leyen

First modification: 09/04/2021 – 01:30

This Thursday, the Turkish Government summoned the Italian ambassador to Ankara, after the Italian Prime Minister, Mario Draghi, branded the President of Turkey, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, a “dictator”. Draghi made the accusation after last Tuesday, the president of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, was isolated from the center of the meeting she held with Erdogan and the president of the European Council, Charles Michel, in the Turkish capital, an incident that has caused great controversy and that is described as a “sexist” act.

An apparent protocol error deepens accusations of machismo against the Turkish government, which recently withdrew its country from a key European convention aimed at combating violence against women.

Turkey vigorously rejected allegations of snubbing, because of her gender, the president of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, one of the most powerful executives of the community bloc, after she was allegedly relegated from an important meeting in Ankara, last Tuesday. The event produced a frontal confrontation with the Government of Italy.

The Turkish Foreign Ministry summoned the Italian ambassador to Ankara, Massimo Gaiani, on Thursday to protest the comments made hours before by Prime Minister Mario Draghi, in which he called Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan a “dictator”.


“We strongly condemn the unacceptable populist rhetoric of Italian Prime Minister Draghi and his ugly and irrational statements about our president-elect,” Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavusoglu wrote in a short statement posted on his Twitter account.

The reproach came shortly after Draghi condemned that von der Leyen was allegedly isolated, for being a woman, in the meeting she held with Erdogan and the president of the European Council, Charles Michel.


“I do not share in any way Erdogan’s behavior with President von der Leyen. I am very sorry for the humiliation she has had to suffer (…) As I have already said in other press conferences, we have to consider that we must collaborate with these dictators, we are going to call them what they are, “Draghi told the press in Rome.

Snub against Ursula von der Leyen or a protocol error?

The controversy centers on the fact that on November 8, when the German official and Charles Michel met in the presidential palace of Turkey, together with the president of that country, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, to discuss the relations between his Government and the European Union. .

The guests were taken to a room to talk with the Turkish president, but there were only two chairs in front of the flags of the European Union and Turkey for the three leaders.

Von der Leyen stared at the men who took the seats in the center, while she must have sat on a side sofa, away from her interlocutors.

Quickly, the images caused controversy on social networks and in European media and politicians for what was pointed out as a humiliation for von der Leyen.

His colleague from the European Union also received strong criticism for allegedly agreeing with the situation. This Thursday Michel broke the silence and replied that he regrets that it has been misinterpreted that he agreed with what he called a “differential treatment, even reduced” by the Turkish authorities, something that “saddens him”.

He added that, at the time, both he and the German leader were “aware of the regrettable nature of the situation,” but that they chose “not to aggravate it with a public incident,” and focused on “the bottom line of the political discussion” with your hosts.

European Commission chief spokesman Eric Mamer stressed on Wednesday that von der Leyen expected to receive the same treatment as Michel at the meeting and that “he should have received exactly the same seat.”

In terms of protocol, Turkey insists that the EU’s own rules were applied, but the head of protocol of the Council of the European Union, Dominique Marro, said his team did not have access to a pre-inspection in the room where the attack occurred. incident.

“If the room had been visited, we would have suggested to our hosts that, as a courtesy, they replace the sofa with two armchairs for the president of the Commission,” Marro wrote in a public note.

In addition, he explained that the incident could have been caused by the order of the protocol established by the EU treaty.

“In general, the protocol for third countries makes a clear distinction between the condition of head of state, held by the president of the European Council, and the condition of prime minister, held by the president of the European Commission,” he said.

The event has caused a stir especially when it was presented only a few weeks after Erdogan removed Turkey from the Istanbul Convention, named after the city in which it was signed in 2011, between this country and the European Union. It is a pact aimed at combating gender violence.

The withdrawal was a blow to Turkey’s women’s rights movement, which claims that domestic violence and killings of women are on the rise. During his visit to Ankara, von der Leyen asked Erdogan to reverse his decision to withdraw from the agreement.

With AP, Reuters and EFE

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