Letter to President Von der Leyen & President Michel on the disparaging behavior of the Turkish leadership towards the President of the European Commission during the visit to Ankara.


   Elena Kountoura   Member of the European Parliament /SYRIZA – Progressive Alliance Delegation

To the attention of:

Ms. Ursula von der Leyen    President of the European Commission

Mr. Charles Michel    President of the European Council


Mr. David Maria Sassoli,   President of the European Parliament

Brussels, 8 April 2021

Subject: Disparaging behavior of the Turkish leadership towards the President of the European Commission during the visit to Ankara

Dear President von der Leyen,

Dear President Michel,

We hereby condemn the unacceptable and disparaging behavior of the Turkish President, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, towards you and your role as the President of the European Commission, Ms. von der Leyen, but also towards the European Council that you represent, Mr. Michel, as it is a direct attack on European Institutions.

At the same time, we express our surprise and our discomfort with the passive stance you both chose to take.

Ms. von der Leyen, there was no reaction on your part to Mr. Erdogan’s insult towards you, as a woman and as the President of the European Commission, and you failed to demand the fundamental respect expected towards your institutional role, especially since his action comes only a few days after Turkey’s withdrawal from the Istanbul Convention.

And you, Mr Michel carry twice the responsibility. Not only did you take a passive stance, accepting Mr Erdogan’s derogatory attitude towards  the President of the European Commission, which is indicative of a planned policy by the Turkish President to devalue women’s rights, but to make matters worse, your inaction fails to reflect the importance of the position you represent and is, therefore, an equally serious blow to the EU.

At this sensitive and critical juncture, your tolerance of this provocative action by Mr. Erdogan is a legitimization of Turkey’s offensive political stance, and a clear undermining of the position and role of the European Union, which we regret to see you indifferent towards before the entire international community.

It is clear that this is not a mere coincidence, which breaches diplomatic protocol, but a premeditated display of political supremacy against you by the Turkish President who is attempting to undermine diminish the prestige and values of the European Union, including gender equality, while defending his dangerous policies, undermining human rights in Turkey.

This consciously hostile action comes in the wake of a series of provocations and political choices, which blatantly confirm that Turkey is moving further away from the prospect of joining the European Union, and from the principles of our core European Union acquis.

The growing persecution and imprisonment of political opponents of the current Turkish government, including the persecution of the HDP political party, the reduction of the scope of civil society, the restriction of freedom of expression and independence of the media, directly undermine parliamentary democracy and respect for human rights.

At a regional level, Turkey continues to challenge and violate the sovereign rights of European Union member states, Greece and Cyprus, disregarding international law and the law of the sea, thus threatening stability in the region.

The European Union has so far been unable to successfully formulate an effective deterrent policy against Turkish provocations. While it easily imposes «fast track» sanctions on third countries, it is at a loss when it comes to unanimously imposing strict sanctions against this relentlessly provocative country, due to the strong economic ties that some Member States maintain with Turkey; hence, European Solidarity ultimately never translates into action.

The European Union must demonstrate that it can build a strong/united front that responds decisively to the escalating provocations of the Turkish government.

The European Parliament has taken a clear stance on the importance of immediate and tough sanctions. Only in this way will Turkey back down from its aggressive policies, thereby making genuine dialogue possible.

We call on you to -finally- condemn all offensive action taken by the Turkish side, and to defend the fundamental role, principles, and values of the European Union.

The undersigned,

Elena Kountoura

Dimitrios Papadimoulis

Konstantinos Arvanitis

Alexis Georgoulis