On Monday, the European Commission refused to comment on what happened last Thursday, when the Ugandan Foreign Minister did not shake hands with the head of the Executive Group, Ursula von der Leyen, during the summit between the European Union and the African Union. French President Emmanuel Macron intervened to correct the initial insolence.
Community spokesperson Eric Mammer confirmed today that it was the media, not the European Commission, that hinted at a “protocol incident” involving Uganda’s Foreign Minister, Gigi Odongo, and insisted that von der Leyen is fully immersed in the Ukraine crisis.
“You have to understand that at the moment we have a very dangerous situation around Ukraine,” Mamer said, adding that both the UNHCR chief and her team are working for 24 hours on this crisis, which is “grabbing” all your attention. .
In the greetings of the EU-African Union summit, the Ugandan minister gave an almost imperceptible nod to von der Leyen and went past, shaking hands with the President of the European Council, Charles Michel, and then with Macron.
Then the French president, in the absence of a reaction from the President of the European Council, intervened to solve Michel’s paralysis, referring to von der Leyen, with whom the President of Uganda then exchanged a few words.
A community spokesperson who asked the media to leave von der Leyen “out of this story” said the commission chief “didn’t raise the issue with anyone”.
“It’s the world upside down, you didn’t say anything (…) you didn’t talk about Macron, Michel or the Ugandan minister. You should avoid making a storm in a glass of water,” the spokesman added.
What happened Thursday is reminiscent of the diplomatic incident that left European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen in the background last year during her visit to Ankara, when Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Charles Michel sat in two chairs. in the center of the room, while Von der Leyen relegated to a side sofa.
The reactions that then generated from Michel’s negativity forced him to later make a formal apology to the President of the European Commission.
On this occasion, Michel did not intervene because he “did not see” that the Ugandan foreign minister skipped the official salute to the President of the European Commission at the summit, said Belgian political liaison adviser Yorick Kochkevich, yesterday.
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