After sofagate, EP's Turkey rapporteur draws attention to seats that HDP 'lost'

After a seating scandal that left Von der Leyen left without a chair at talks with Erdoğan earlier this week, the European Parliament’s Turkey rapporteur said that what really worried him was the "lost seats of HDP MPs and mayors." "Let's not lose focus on what seats are at stake!" Nacho Sanchez Amor wrote on Twitter.

This collage photo shows former HDP MPs Gergerlioğlu, Demirtaş and Yüksekdağ, who have been all jailed after being expelled from parliament.

Duvar English

The European Parliament’s Turkey rapporteur Nacho Sanchez Amor has commented on a recent seating scandal dubbed “sofagate,” saying what really worried him was the “lost seats” of the pro-Kurdish Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) as deputies and mayors.

“Beyond whoever is to blame for the regrettable SofaGate episode, the lost seats that I’m really worried about in Turkey are those of the HDP MPs, mayors and those in newsrooms & clasrooms. Let's not lose focus on what seats are at stake!” Amor wrote on Twitter.

The HDP has been fighting for its political survival after a prosecutor last month asked the country’s top court to shut it down for alleged links to Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK).

European lawmakers, including Amor, have condemned the Turkish authorities' move as a “heavy blow to democracy,” saying the ban of the party would further undermine the democracy in the country.

Several HDP lawmakers are still behind bars, including former co-chairs Selahattin Demirtaş and Figen Yüksekdağ. 

Turkey also jailed former HDP MP Ömer Faruk Gergerlioğlu over a social media post last week. 

Amor's comments on the crackdown against the HDP came as Turkey has been again at the center of criticism this week over seating arrangements that left European Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen without a chair during a meeting with President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on April 6.

Several MEPs have demanded an explanation on how von der Leyen was left standing while European Council President Charles Michel took a seat.

The incident has sparked a debate on Turkey's attitude to women and the EU.

On April 8, Turkish Foreign Minister Çavuşoğlu dismissed criticism on the seating mishap, saying Turkey had satisfied all the protocol requirements of the EU side.

"Turkey is a deep-rooted state, it is not the first time it hosts a guest. The protocol followed for meetings in Turkey is within the international protocol framework. The same was done here too," Çavuşoğlu said.