Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary

It is nearly impossible to find a sphere in social life where figurative speech plays as an important role as it does in diplomacy. Metaphors, allusions, and indirect remarks often bring more realistic results in diplomatic relations than actual negotiations do. This is why experienced politicians and diplomats use Aesopic language, reference the Bible, folklore, and classical literature, as well as borrow foreign, especially Latin, phrases.

In 1902 Nicholas II of Russia and Wilhelm II of Germany were in Reval (present-day Tallinn), taking part in naval maneuvers in the Gulf of Finland. According to naval protocol, the emperor’s ship signaled its departure. The polite messages were suddenly followed by a bizarre one: "The admiral of the Atlantic Ocean greets the admiral of the Pacific Ocean.”

Count Sergei Witte, the chairman of the Council of Ministers of the Russian Empire, interpreted the emperor’s message in the following way: "If we were to translate [the message] into simple language, it means ‘I want to conquer the Atlantic Ocean or gain a dominant position in its basin, and I would suggest that you do the same in the Pacific Ocean. I will support you . . .’”

And in 1915, during World War I, Japan presented its neighbor China with a unique military warning—an ultimatum. The "land of the rising sun” placed the "Twenty-One Demands” on China that would have economic and political consequences. They were humiliating and thuggish demands. When the Emperor of China Yuan Shikai tried to object during his meeting with the Japanese ambassador, the latter advised him to hold the message to the light. Shikai froze when he held the paper to the light and saw the watermarks in the form of Japanese warships that spread terror in the waters of the region . . .

A diplomatic hint can be found not only on a piece of paper or in words, but even in pastry. When the foreign secretary of England Sir Anthony Eden was visiting Moscow in 1935, he was presented with a cake that had an inscription saying "Peace is indivisible” during a dinner reception organized by his colleague Maksim Litvinov. This was a hint at the political situation at the threshold of World War II.
1424 reads | 18.07.2013

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