Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary

I highly doubt that Idi Amin’s obsession with litters was a national tradition in Uganda. His behavior was a result of a sick mind. But all experienced diplomats know that one has to be careful with even the most elementary traditions.
The incident that took place in 1996, when the Prince of Wales was visiting Bishkek, is yet another example of protocol gone wrong. The Kyrgyz officials had gone out of their way to make sure that the royalty was treated well during his stay in Kyrgyzstan. Not trusting the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the President of Kyrgyzstan Askar Akayev personally oversaw the reception procedures.

It turns out that his fears were not completely baseless. During the final dinner the hosts served a special Kyrgyz dish called chuchuk, sausage made from horsemeat. They explained to the prince the processes of preparing the dish, including such details as the slaughtering of the horse. And, according to Eastern hospitality, they insisted a few times that he try it. However they encountered complete disinterest; the smile froze on the prince’s face. He naturally didn’t touch the ill-fated chuchuk or any of the other dishes that were piled up on the table.

The Kyrgyz diplomats were completely clueless.

Akayev, who was a man of high intellect and experience, immediately understood what the problem was. The prince couldn’t eat the meat of his beloved animal. It meant to him betraying his pet and it was worse than cannibalism.
According to rumors, Akayev, who is known for his restraint and democratic views, made a huge scandal after the incident and even threatened to fire the Minister of Foreign Affairs.

Prince Charles’ compatriot, Winston Churchill, the prominent politician and diplomat the likes of whom, as they say, are born once in a century, didn’t give a damn about etiquette and didn’t follow any rules. His snobby and sometimes eccentric expressions were tolerable, because as a rule they were sharp, to the point, and full of humor. The words of the great politician were as if flashes of light in the gray skyline of London that appeared to complete the repository of aphorisms of the world.

The following incident took place in Tehran, in 1943, during the meeting held between Joseph Stalin, Franklin Roosevelt, and Winston Churchill. Roosevelt was waiting for Churchill in his hotel room. The latter comes out of the bathroom naked and stands in front of Roosevelt, who, having been reared in Victorian and puritan ways, is shocked from Churchill’s exotic looks. Noticing Roosevelt’s confusion, Churchill says good-humoredly: "The Prime Minister of Great Britain has nothing to hide from the President of the United States.”

Churchill always used irony and sarcasm in response to anything that could hurt him.
There is a famous anecdote featuring Churchill and a lady, who reprimanded Churchill during a dinner, saying: "Sir, you are drunk.”

"And you are ugly. But I shall be sober in the morning, and you will still be ugly,” he replied.

Many scandals in diplomatic history have erupted because the visiting heads of states were not knowledgeable about the traditions or "language” of gestures of their hosting country. The famous thumbs-up gesture in the United States means "Okay,” but it means something completely different in another culture. When Richard Nixon made a thumbs-up gesture during a speech in Brazil, it was followed by an uproar, laughter, and whistling. The president didn’t realize that he was inviting everyone in the stadium to have sex with him. The miscommunication, of course, was the fault of his ambassador.

1536 reads | 04.08.2013

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