Two Presidents Visited Turkey. Only the Man Was Offered a Chair.

Either way, it came 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.”

That point was not lost on the offended party.

Ms. von der Leyen “seized the opportunity to insist on the issues related to women’s rights in general and to the Istanbul Convention in particular,” Mr. Mamer, her spokesman, said. “It would have been discussed certainly in any case, but obviously this sharpened her focus on the issue.”

Matina Stevis-Gridneff reported from Brussels, and Carlotta Gall from Istanbul. Monika Pronczuk contributed reporting from Brussels.

View Source

Coronavirus Vaccine ‘Fiasco’ Damages Europe’s Credibility

“This has been catastrophic for the reputation of the European Union,” said Mark Leonard, the director of the European Council on Foreign Relations.

At the start of the crisis, as nations erected borders and hoarded protective equipment, masks and gowns, there was a huge desire for European cooperation, he said, “not because people liked the E.U. or its institutions, but because they were so absent.”

But the question now, he said, is buyer’s remorse. “The E.U. waded into an area with no expertise and competence and put a spotlight on itself,” he said. “In the minds of many who look at the U.K. and U.S. and Israel, they think we’re doing badly because of European cooperation, and that will have a corrosive impact in other areas.”

Timothy Garton Ash, a professor of European studies at the University of Oxford, said that the “fundamental legitimacy” of the bloc came less from its democratic institutions, which are weak, than from its performance, which is how it will be judged. Its real legitimacy, he said, “is what it delivers for Europeans.”

But the bloc’s other major initiative, a groundbreaking pandemic recovery fund, has yet to be put in place and is dwarfed by American stimulus packages.

While national leaders commonly take credit for every success and blame the Commission for every failure, the pandemic has displayed the vulnerabilities of a bureaucracy with weak and divided leadership. An effort by the Commission president, Ursula von der Leyen, a medical doctor, to enhance her power and profile by grabbing vaccine procurement from member states has proved disastrous.

View Source

Vaccine ‘Fiasco’ Damages Europe’s Credibility

“This has been catastrophic for the reputation of the European Union,” said Mark Leonard, the director of the European Council on Foreign Relations.

At the start of the crisis, as nations erected borders and hoarded protective equipment, masks and gowns, there was a huge desire for European cooperation, he said, “not because people liked the E.U. or its institutions, but because they were so absent.”

But the question now, he said, is buyer’s remorse. “The E.U. waded into an area with no expertise and competence and put a spotlight on itself,” he said. “In the minds of many who look at the U.K. and U.S. and Israel, they think we’re doing badly because of European cooperation, and that will have a corrosive impact in other areas.”

Timothy Garton Ash, a professor of European studies at the University of Oxford, said that the “fundamental legitimacy” of the bloc came less from its democratic institutions, which are weak, than from its performance, which is how it will be judged. Its real legitimacy, he said, “is what it delivers for Europeans.”

But the bloc’s other major initiative, a groundbreaking pandemic recovery fund, has yet to be put in place and is dwarfed by American stimulus packages.

While national leaders commonly take credit for every success and blame the Commission for every failure, the pandemic has displayed the vulnerabilities of a bureaucracy with weak and divided leadership. An effort by the Commission president, Ursula von der Leyen, a medical doctor, to enhance her power and profile by grabbing vaccine procurement from member states has proved disastrous.

View Source

E.U. Set to Curb Covid Vaccine Exports for 6 Weeks

BRUSSELS — The European Union is finalizing emergency legislation that will give it broad powers to curb exports for the next six weeks of Covid-19 vaccines manufactured in the bloc, a sharp escalation in its response to supply shortages at home that have created a political maelstrom amid a rising third wave on the continent.

The draft legislation, which is set to be made public on Wednesday, was reviewed by The New York Times and confirmed by two E.U. officials involved in the drafting process. The new rules will make it harder for pharmaceutical companies producing Covid-19 vaccines in the European Union to export them and are likely to disrupt supply to Britain.

The European Union has been primarily at loggerheads with AstraZeneca since it drastically cut its supply to the bloc, citing production problems in January, and the company is the main target of the new rules. But the legislation, which could block the export of millions of doses from E.U. ports, could also affect the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines.

Britain is by far the biggest benefactor of E.U. exports and will stand to lose the most by these rules, but they could also be applied to curb exports to other countries like Canada, for example, the second-largest recipient of E.U.-made vaccines, as well as Israel, which gets doses from the bloc but is very advanced in its vaccination campaign and therefore seen as less needy.

to export more than 40 million vaccine doses to 33 countries between February and mid-March, with 10 million going to Britain and 4.3 million to Canada. The bloc has kept about 70 million at home and distributed them to its 27 member nations, but its efforts to mount mass vaccination campaigns have been set back by a number of missteps.

Exporting liberally overseas when supply at home is thin has been a key part of the problem, and the bloc has come under criticism for permitting exports in the first place, when the United States and Britain practically locked up domestic production for domestic use through contracts with pharmaceutical companies.

race ahead with their inoculation campaigns. Nearly 60 percent of Israelis have received at least one vaccine dose, 40 percent of Britons and a quarter of Americans, but only 10 percent of E.U. citizens have been inoculated, according to the latest information published by Our World in Data.

The export curbs are being pushed through by the European Commission, the executive branch of the European Union, and while changes to the new rules could still take place before the law is finalized, officials said it was unlikely they would be substantive. They are expected to be put into force swiftly.

E.U. officials said the rules would allow a degree of discretion, meaning they won’t result in a blanket ban on exports, and the officials still expected many exports to continue.

“The proposed measures are concerning,” said Youmy Han, the spokeswoman for Canada’s minister of international trade, Mary Ng.

“Minister Ng’s counterparts have repeatedly assured her that these measures will not affect vaccine shipments to Canada,” Ms. Han said. She added, “We will continue to work with the E.U. and its member states, as we have done throughout the pandemic, to ensure that our essential health and medical supply chains remain open and resilient.”

late January, when AstraZeneca told the bloc it would cut its deliveries by more than half in the first quarter of 2021, upending vaccine rollout plans. In response, the European Union put in place an export-authorization process, requiring pharmaceutical companies to seek permission to export vaccines and giving the European Union the powers to block them if they were seen as running counter to a company’s contractual obligations to the bloc.

Since Feb. 1, the European Union blocked only one out of more than 300 exports, a small shipment of AstraZeneca vaccines to Australia, on the grounds that the country was nearly Covid-free while the bloc was struggling with rising infections.

The new rules will introduce more grounds to block exports, the draft documents show. They will encourage blocking shipments to countries that do not export vaccines to the European Union — a clause clearly targeting Britain — or to countries that have “a higher vaccination rate” than the European Union “or where the current epidemiological situation is less serious” than in the bloc, according to the wording seen by The Times.

In recent days, Prime Minister Boris Johnson of Britain has sought to strike a conciliatory tone in a bid to avert an E.U. export ban that would deliver a major blow to his country’s fast-advancing vaccination campaign.

At a news conference on Tuesday, Mr. Johnson said he was opposed to blockades, and was “encouraged by some of the things I’ve heard from the continent.” The British news media reported that his government would be prepared to let the bloc have four million AstraZeneca doses produced at an E.U.-based factory.

Benjamin Mueller contributed reporting from London, Sharon LaFraniere from Washington and Ian Austen from Ottawa.

View Source

Where Europe Went Wrong in Its Vaccine Rollout, and Why

BRUSSELS — The calls began in December, as the United States prepared to administer its first batches of Covid-19 vaccine. Even then, it was clear that the European Union was a few weeks behind, and its leaders wanted to know what they could learn from their American counterparts.

The questions were the same, from President Emmanuel Macron of France, President Ursula von der Leyen of the European Commission, and Alexander De Croo, the prime minister of Belgium.

“How did you do it?” Dr. Moncef Slaoui, the United States vaccine czar, recalled them asking on the calls. “And what do you think we missed?”

Since then, the rollout gap between Europe and the United States has only widened, and some of the countries hardest hit early in the pandemic are facing a deadly third wave of infections. France, large parts of Italy, and other regions are back in lockdown. Roughly 20,000 Europeans die of Covid-19 each week.

temporarily halt the distribution of the AstraZeneca vaccine. Most of them resumed using it on Friday, after Europe’s top drug regulator vouched for its safety, but public confidence in the shot has been badly shaken.

Vaccine salvation remains, for now, still tantalizingly out of reach. Only about 10 percent of Europeans have received a first dose, compared with 23 percent in the United States and 39 percent in Britain.

There is no single culprit. Rather, a cascade of small decisions have led to increasingly long delays. The bloc was comparatively slow to negotiate contracts with drugmakers. Its regulators were cautious and deliberative in approving some vaccines. Europe also bet on vaccines that did not pan out or, significantly, had supply disruptions. And national governments snarled local efforts in red tape.

leaders pointing fingers over why some of the world’s richest countries, home to factories that churn out vast quantities of vaccine, cannot keep pace with other wealthy nations in injecting its people.

Compared with nearly all the rest of the world, the European Union is in an admirable position. Its leaders say it remains feasible to vaccinate 70 percent of the Continent by this summer. The bloc has ordered enough doses to fully vaccinate its population at least three times, to the consternation of countries that will wait years for full coverage.

But Europeans are stung, especially, to see Britain’s rollout going so well after the country exited the bloc. Everyone wants to know why the E.U. has not triumphed.

The European Union trailed the United States and Britain from the start.

Washington had already spent billions on clinical trials and manufacturing by the time Europe decided to pool its resources and negotiate as a bloc. In mid-June, the European Commission, the bloc’s executive branch, announced a joint vaccine purchase with a $3.2 billion pot.

$10 billion budget. European officials say it’s unfair to compare the two figures because neither amount is a complete picture of all the money spent on vaccines. But there is no dispute that in Washington, officials had decided that money was no object if vaccines could avert the economic cost of a lockdown. Europe, on the other hand, was on a tight budget, so its negotiators chased cheaper doses.

“Pricing has been important since the beginning,” Sandra Gallina, the E.U.’s main vaccine negotiator, told lawmakers in February. “We are talking about taxpayers’ money.”

AstraZeneca has slashed its delivery plans, telling European leaders that it would hand over 100 million fewer doses by the middle of the year, according to the commission’s president, Ms. von der Leyen.

Only one in five French people now trust the AstraZeneca vaccine, according to a poll by the Elabe Institute published Tuesday.

Now Europe is striking a more aggressive tone about protecting its interests. Italy blocked a small shipment of AstraZeneca vaccines to Australia earlier this month. Ms. von der Leyen upped the ante this week, threatening to use an emergency mechanism, last used during the 1970s oil crisis, that would allow the bloc to seize production of vaccines.

“It is hard to explain to our citizens why vaccines produced in the E.U. are going to other countries,” Ms. von der Leyen said.

Early this month, Toon Vanagt, a Belgian tech entrepreneur, accompanied his 77-year-old father to a vaccination center north of Brussels. Mr. Vanagt, 47, was not eligible for the vaccine himself, but a worker there offered him a leftover shot, which he gladly accepted.

software companies have rushed to link patients with doses that would otherwise expire. But in Belgium, when Mr. Vanagt tweeted that he had been vaccinated, it became a mini scandal. Health officials rebuked the vaccine center, which quickly apologized: “A minor communication problem, very quickly rectified.”

Belgium’s rollout is one example of the Continent’s rigid approach to following vaccination guidelines. In a country where nursing home infections led to one of the highest per capita death tolls, the policy was intended to strictly prioritize the neediest residents.

Many European countries are also stockpiling doses to guarantee that everyone who receives a first injection will receive the second dose on time. The United States and Britain have been more flexible, erring on the side of giving more first injections.

“In the U.S., there is a much more flexible, liberal system and you just vaccinate people who come along. Same in the U.K. And it can go quicker. Here it is quite regulated,’’ said Steven Van Gucht, the Belgian government’s top virologist, who said it was too soon to know which system is better.

Administrative hiccups have exacerbated the problems. In Frankfurt, Elke Morgenstern was escorted out of a vaccine center because she enrolled using the wrong online application. “It was embarrassing,” said Ms. Morgenstern, adding that she qualified for a vaccine because of a pre-existing condition.

Because of the AstraZeneca shortages, she cannot book another appointment before May.

“It is a catastrophe how they are handling things here,” she said.

In the Lombardy region of Italy, once the epicenter of the pandemic, the vaccination campaign got off to a slow start in part because the top health care official refused to marshal medical workers over the Christmas holidays. Technical difficulties worsened the problems at the region’s vaccination centers.

“Some sessions were empty,” said Paola Pedrini, the regional secretary general for Italy’s family doctors federation. “For some others, they called 900 people when they could only vaccinate 600.”

For all the problems, Dr. Slaoui said Europeans are in an admirable position. By the numbers, the Continent is about five weeks behind the United States, with vaccine supply expected to increase steadily. “It’s too late to have taken the first bite,” he said. “But they’re in a good place.”

Dr. Van Gucht, of Belgium, agreed. But he said European leaders will likely take nationalistic lessons from the past months.

“I think we relied a little bit too much on the free markets,” he said. “What you really need to do from the beginning is really make sure you produce the vaccines on your territory and that they’re destined for your own population.”

Jason Horowitz and Emma Bubola contributed reporting from Italy and Melissa Eddy from Berlin.

View Source

Delay of Shots From India Slows Britain’s Speedy Vaccination Drive

LONDON — Britain’s speedy Covid-19 vaccination program has been dealt a blow by a delivery delay of millions of doses ordered from India, a setback that illustrates the fragility of global supplies and underscores fears that an exit from the pandemic could be hampered by vaccine nationalism.

News of a shortfall that will slow the British vaccine roll out came amid a bitter dispute over supplies between London and the European Union, and a veiled threat from the bloc to use “whatever tool” is necessary to make sure Europe gets its “fair share of vaccines.”

Although the death toll from Covid-19 in Britain now exceeds 125,000, the government of Prime Minister Boris Johnson has outpaced the rest of Europe with a vaccination program that has already provided first doses to more than 25 million people.

But that giddying pace is set to slow as a result of the delay in the delivery of about 4 million doses from India, underscoring the extent to which even successful vaccination programs are at the mercy of supply chains.

for Europe’s sluggish vaccination campaign, said that in the last six weeks, the bloc exported 41 million doses of vaccines to 33 countries. “But open roads run in both directions,” she said in what was a clear warning to Britain, asking for “reciprocity.”

To complicate the picture, 20 European nations have paused partially or completely use of the AstraZeneca vaccine — some supplies of which are produced in Britain — over safety fears.

Doubts about the AstraZeneca vaccine have proved a headache for the authorities since they emerged in Norway after a small number of those who received the vaccine experienced blood clots.

aid Thursday that the AstraZeneca vaccine was “safe and effective,” and that its benefits far outweigh its risks.

European nations will decide individually whether to resume AstraZeneca shots, and at the news conference Mr. Johnson said he expected to be given the jab on Friday.

Jonathan Ashworth, who speaks for the opposition Labour Party on health issues, said in Parliament that he supported the vaccine but that worries about it must be addressed. He said he had heard that “hundreds of people failed to show for appointments” in London “and we think that is because of concerns and misinformation circulating online.”

Professor Farrar said it was important that every unusual event after a vaccination was investigated transparently, but added that he had seen “no evidence to date that would cause me to pause the vaccination program,” a step that he called “a bigger risk.”

He also warned that, despite the success of Britain’s vaccination efforts so far, the pandemic was far from over and that the country faced significant threats later this year.

“The big concern for me is the autumn and winter,” he said, with one looming question being whether children would be vaccinated to prevent a new wave of transmission in the fall.

“We cannot assume that we are through this pandemic, and I do have a major concern for the period September to February 2022,” he said. “We need to be preparing for that during the summer and we don’t need to get into the optimism bias of the summer of 2020.”

Monika Pronczuk contributed reporting from Brussels and Mujib Mashal from Delhi.

View Source

Pfizer Vaccine Will Be Tested Against Variant from South Africa

BERLIN — European authorities will offer a coronavirus vaccine to every adult in an Austrian district battered by a surge in infections to determine how effective the inoculation is against the variant first found in South Africa.

Starting next week, everyone aged 16 and older living in the Schwaz district, near the western Austrian city of Innsbruck, will be eligible for free shots of the vaccine from Pfizer-BioNTech, as part of the unique drive to learn more about fighting the variant.

The study in Austria is part of a much broader global effort to answer a crucial question as the virus mutates and new variants emerge: Do vaccinations designed last year work against more recent mutations? If not, scientists will have to keep developing new versions of the inoculations.

Laboratory studies have shown that some vaccines that work well against earlier variants are less effective — though they still offer significant protection — against the variant known as B.1.351, which was first found in South Africa in December and has become the dominant one there.

the vaccine rollout has lagged among member states, far behind some other wealthy nations. About 6 percent of the bloc’s people have received at least one shot, compared to 16 percent in the United States, 31 percent in Britain and 55 percent in Israel.

angering authorities in Brussels.

The region has been one of Austria’s hardest hit by the coronavirus. The first cases of infection in the country were detected in the state capital of Innsbruck in February 2020. The following month, a superspreader event was traced to the ski resort town of Ischgl, where authorities later determined many Europeans contracted the virus while there on vacation, and then took it home with them.

Christopher F. Schuetze contributed reporting from Hanover, Germany

View Source