Ursula von der Leyen for ′Sofagate′: ″Would this have happened if I had worn a suit and tie?″ | The World | D.W.

European Commission (EC) President Ursula von der Leyen said on Monday (26.04.2021) that the incident of her meeting with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, where she was relegated to a secondary seat in favor of the President of the Council, Charles Michel, made her feel “lonely and hurt”, “as a woman and as a European”.

Von der Leyen thus spoke in front of the European Parliament, where he traveled with Michel to report on what has been informally called the “Sofagate”, which marked a visit during which the two European leaders sought to reactivate contacts with Turkey after a particularly tense year 2020 in relations between this country and Brussels.

“I am the first woman to be President of the European Commission, and this is how I expected to be treated during my visit to Turkey, but it was not. I find no justification for the way I was treated, so I have to conclude that it’s because I’m a woman. Would this have happened if he had been wearing a suit and tie?” asks Von der Leyen .

“I felt hurt, I felt alone as a woman and as a European”, added the German before the European Parliament, who recalled that in the photos of previous meetings at the same level “we do not not see an absence of chairs”, but “nor the women”.

Despite this, Von der Leyen recognized herself “in a privileged position” to be “president of a respected institution” and to have the ability to “make her voice heard”, and warned against the millions of situations like this and more serious ones that go unreported because they happen to women who do not have the capacity to defend their position.

“We must ensure that these stories are also told”

“When I arrived at the meeting, there were cameras. Thanks to them, the video of my arrival went viral and made the headlines. No translation or subtitles were needed: the images were spoke for themselves. But we all know of thousands of similar incidents, most of them much more serious, that no one sees, “warned Von der Leyen.

“We need to ensure that these stories are also told and that once they are exposed, we take action,” the Chief Community Executive asked.

He recalled that after the incident, at first he took advantage of the meeting with Erdogan to express his concern over Turkey’s departure from the Istanbul Convention, an international treaty to combat gender-based violence, and pointed out that in Europe some countries had not ratified this treaty and others are considering abandoning it.

“This is not acceptable. Any violence against women and girls is a crime. We must call it a crime and punish it as such,” Von der Leyen demanded.

The German also pointed out that the accession of the EU as a bloc to the Istanbul Convention is decided in the Council (institution that represents the countries) and that the Commission wants to propose alternative measures to prevent and punish this type violence at European level. before the end of the year.

JU (efe, dpa, rtre)

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