EU demands answers over Turkey ‘sofagate’

SourceKuwait Times
SectorFinancial Markets

BRUSSELS: EU lawmakers yesterday called for the bloc’s top two officials to explain a snowballing diplomatic scandal that saw Commission head Ursula von der Leyen left without a chair at talks with Turkey’s president. The furor-dubbed “sofagate” online-has sparked a slew of accusations over Ankara’s attitude to women and the EU, sexism in Brussels, and internal political wrangling between the bloc’s institutions. It all centered on an awkward moment at the start of talks between von der Leyen, European Council President Charles Michel and Turkish leader Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Ankara on Tuesday. The well-appointed room which the three leaders entered had only two chairs arranged next to the corresponding EU and Turkish flags. Erdogan and Michel quickly seated themselves while von der Leyen-whose diplomatic rank is the same as that of the two men-was left standing. “Ehm,” she said pointedly, while appearing to spread her arms in wonder.

Official images later showed her seated on a sofa opposite one taken more...