The incident occurred on Wednesday (7/4/2021) when von der Leyen was not provided with a seat close to Erdogan.
In fact, von der Leyen and other European delegations, including the President of the European Council Charles Michel, at that time visited Ankara, Turkey.
Erdogan sits in a gold-plated chair next to Michel. The two of them sit against the backdrop of the adjoining Turkish and European Union flags.
Inevitably, because there was only one chair near Erdogan, von der Leyen finally sat on a sofa which was located quite a distance from Erdogan and Michel.
The incident quickly spread on the internet and was dubbed as suffagate.
The European Union took this incident seriously as reported AFP.
On Thursday (8/4/2021), members parliament The European Union asked two top bloc officials to explain the diplomatic scandal.
Member Parliament Europe from Spain, Iratxe Garcia Perez, said the incident was very embarrassing.
“First they (Turkey) withdrew from the Istanbul Convention and now they are not giving the President of the European Commission a seat on an official visit. It’s a shame,” Perez said on Twitter.
He added, although the relationship between the European Union and Turkey is very important, the bloc cannot just ignore human rights, including women’s rights.
Perez said he would talk with von der Leyen and Michel to clarify what happened and how to respect European Union institutions.
Meanwhile, a member of the European Union Parliament from Germany, Manfred Weber, told Politico that the visit to Ankara itself has become a symbol of division between top EU officials.
Previously, von der Leyen, stressed EU concerns over women’s rights after Erdogan withdrew Turkey from the Istanbul Convention.
The Istanbul convention covers the prevention of violence against women and children. Von der Leyen herself is the first woman to become President of the European Commission.
European Commission spokesman Eric Mamer condemned the diplomatic carelessness.
Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu denied that Ankara had done anything wrong.
Cavusoglu said Turkey had arranged the seats according to the advice of the European Union.
On the other hand, Michel has been inundated with criticism for apparently not supporting von der Leyen and is easily seated in the only seat available near Erdogan.
Through Facebook, he regrets blunder Turkey for not providing a seat for von der Leyen.