“Both sides are to share the blame,” said Asli Aydintasbas, a senior fellow with the European Council on Foreign Relations. Turkey’s foreign ministry should have warned the presidency that the two E.U. leaders act as co-chairs, she said, and E.U. officials should have corrected the mistake.
“The omission is a natural outcome of Erdogan living in an all-male political environment and the E.U. being intimidated by the Turkish president,” she added.
Either way, it came at a “terrible time,” said Nigar Goksel, the top Turkey expert at the International Crisis Group, especially because of the recent withdrawal from the Istanbul Convention.
According to data gathered by U.N. Women, the United Nations agency for women’s rights, 38 percent of Turkish women experience violence from their partner at least once in their lifetime, and more than one in 10 was subjected to domestic violence in the last 12 months. In the 2021 Global Gender Gap report, an annual review by the World Economic Forum that covers economics, politics, education and health, Turkey ranked 133 among 156 countries.
The protocol fail in Tuesday’s meeting comes at a crucial time in Turkey’s relations with the European Union.
In recent months, Turkey has emphasized a desire to improve relations with the bloc and to revive its process for joining. The meeting was intended to build momentum in a relationship that has been fraught with disagreements in recent years on issues like migration, maritime borders and customs arrangements.
“Whatever the realities on the protocol side, the incident clearly underscores the fact that Turkey was blind to the optics of how this would appear,” said Mr. Lesser of the German Marshall Fund. Those optics, he added, “will only underscore the sense that Europe is not on the same page when it comes to values, when it comes to diversity, inclusion and gender equality.”