A single image summed up the weaknesses of European diplomacy. It’s a video footage of a few seconds. We see Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the Turkish president, in his presidential palace in Ankara on Tuesday April 6. There he receives the President of the European Commission and the President of the European Council.
Three officials and only two chairs, for the two men. Annoyed, President Ursula von Der Leyen shows her disapproval and goes to sit on a sofa a little further away, which will be immediately baptized by the European press on #SofaGate. The President of the European Council Charles Michel took more than 24 hours to produce a press release to justify his passivity in the face of what was happening.
What does this scene really tell? A misogyny and rampant Islamism, that we are not done with Erdogan and, more worryingly, further proof of the weakness of European diplomacy.
A trip that was to warm up relationships
The Turkish leader last week pulled his country out of the Istanbul international accord against violence against women. We were warned … As shifted as it may seem, when Erdogan hardens his regime and repression, the trip of the two most senior leaders of the European authorities was to mark a form of warming relations with Turkey.
If Erdogan has changed his attitude lately, it is not because of European threats, so difficult to formulate, it is because Donald Trump is no longer in charge. New US President Joe Biden is much less conciliatory with Turkey.
But Erdogan remains Erdogan. Behind this lull, there is also a European commitment: this € 6 billion funding that will be extended for Erdogan to keep 3.5 million Syrian migrants in Turkey, so that they do not come to Europe. This is also European foreign policy, that of inconsiderate arrangements. A stammering diplomacy that is still struggling to be really respected.
This episode is reminiscent of another, last year, when the head of European diplomacy had been humiliated. He was in full visit to Moscow which expelled at the same time three European diplomats, accused of supporting the opponent Alexeï Navalny. The same causes actually produce the same effects. When all European countries are not aligned in their response to Russia or Turkey, European diplomacy is weak, to the point of humiliation.
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