European women’s associations have written to the president of the European Council, Charles Michel, asking him to step down following “Sofagate,” the label given to an incident on Tuesday in which European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen was subjected to a protocol snub in Ankara.
A petition launched by the associations obtained over 2,500 signatures in less than two days in Belgium, France, Italy and even outside the European Union.
The petition was started by the Millenia Foundation, an international public utility foundation for women’s empowerment and equality, following Tuesday’s incident, in which Michel and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan sat in the only two armchairs provided when the Turkish leader received his EU visitors, leaving the Commission President standing.
It pointed to “three major errors” committed by Michel during Tuesday’s meeting with Erdogan which, in addition to the affront to Ms. Von der Leyen, “are an affront to all women.”
The errors run counter to diplomacy, the EU and human rights and, in particular, women’s rights, the signatories said, adding that pale excuses would not resolve the political vacuum which, they argued, the incident had left between Europe and its female citizens, on one hand, and between Europe and the world, on the other.
Most press agencies reported on the incident and made fun of it, the women’s associations said, adding that they were therefore calling for Charles Michel’s resignation as president of the European Council.