Social media users quickly adopted a new hashtag after two European Union leaders visited Turkey and only one was offered a chair during a meeting.
Ursula von der Leyen, president of the European Commission, and her colleague Charles Michel, president of the European Council, met with Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan this week. In the meeting room, two seats were situated between the E.U. and Turkish flags. Michel was given one, and Erdoğan took the other, leaving von der Leyen standing.
“Uhm …” von der Leyen muttered as she evaluated the situation, raising her hand in question, as shown in video clips posted to Twitter.
She eventually was seated on a nearby side sofa as photographers snapped pictures of the two men. On a side sofa across from her sat Turkey’s foreign minister, Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu.
The New York Times noted that von der Leyen and Michel are of equal rank in the E.U. leadership, and that von der Leyen outranks Çavuşoğlu.
After the incident made its way onto the internet, outcry began, with many saying it was indicative of Turkey’s view of women. Days before the meeting, Turkey exited the Istanbul Convention, a treaty aimed at stopping violence against women, the Times reports.
“#GiveHerASeat” began trending, initially in Europe and then elsewhere.
First they withdraw from the Istambul Convention and now they leave the President of European Commission without a seat in an official visit. Shameful. #WomensRights pic.twitter.com/p5Z4AHuHjK
— Iratxe Garcia Perez/♥️ (@IratxeGarper) April 6, 2021
“Ehm” is the new term for “that’s not how EU-Turkey relationship should be”. #GiveHerASeat #EU #Turkey #womensrights pic.twitter.com/vGVFutDu0S
— Sergey Lagodinsky (@SLagodinsky) April 6, 2021
Ladies, first. Isn‘t that what you meant, Mr. President?#GiveHerASeat https://t.co/X2eraa33Zl
— Brent Goff (@brentgofftv) April 6, 2021
Eric Mamer, an EU spokesman, told the Times that von der Leyen “should have been seated exactly in the same manner as the president of the European Council and the Turkish president.”
Mamer did not immediately respond to The Hill’s request for comment.