Port Vila, Vanuatu (PressExposure) April 08, 2009 -- In a major departure from international diplomatic protocol the Italian Prime Minster Silvio Berlusconi, leapt out of his car, signaling he had to take a phone call, instead of walking the red carpet. Chancellor of Germany, Angela Merkel, the host at the NATO conference in Strasbourg, was left flat footed, as Silvio Berlusconi paced the banks of the river, talking intently on his cell phone. With his back firmly turned to Merkel, millions of viewers around the world watched the very public throwing out of the protocol rule book, much to the enjoyment and conjecture of the commentators.
Angela Merkel was formally welcoming the 27 Heads of State, (should have been 28) members of NATO, as she stood alone on the red carpet, including President Barak Obama. BBC Television shelved their advertized programs, to beam the 45 minute ceremony around the world live. The leaders had gathered on the German â French border, in order to walk over a foot bridge, joining the two countries. Nicolas Sarkozy, the French Prime Minister, met the NATO leaders in the centre of the bridge, for a photo shoot of this historical European alliance moment, before proceeding to walk to the French side of the border.
After greeting the remainder of the heads of state, Angela Merkel disappeared inside, after shrugging her shoulders in the direction of Berlusconi. He was seen walking off across the neighbouring parkland, closely followed by half a dozen body-guards. Berlusconi did not join the NATO heads, during the historical bridge walk, or the one minute of silence in honour of NATO soldiers killed in action. Berlusconi only turned up on the French side of the Rhine, in time to get into the second photo shoot.
An informant from Berlusconi's office said Berlusconi had been conducting NATO business on the phone, trying to talk the Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan, into accepting Europe's candidate for the next head of the military alliance. Turkey has objected to the Danish prime minister, Anders Fogh Rasmussen, as a replacement for the outgoing NATO secretary-general.
Only days before the Italian prime minister had been ribbed, or was that scolded, by the Queen of England, at a G20 photo shoot, for shouting at Barak Obama. Only days before the Italian prime minister had been ribbed, or was that scolded, by the Queen of England, at a G20 photo shoot, for shouting at Barak Obama. Now in his third term of office, the 72 year-old media magnate, had earlier made another diplomatic screw up when he twice referred to Obamaâs skin colour as a sun tan.
The gaffs don't stop there. Michelle Obama earlier in the week, briefly put her hand on the back of Britain's Queen Elizabeth, as they chatted during a Buckingham Palace reception. The Queen had placed her own hand on the First Lady's back during their conversation. However, the golden rule still applies. It is a major blooper for any person to touch the royal person of the reigning Monarch of England.
John Howard, then prime minister of Australia, joined the rank of famous bloopers when in 2007 he appeared to put his arm around the Queen, as he tried to direct her through a crowd. He adamantly denies touching the royal body, but photographs show he was real close.
Earlier in 1992, Paul Keeting, the prime minister of Australia, was dubbed 'Lizard of Oz', when he also touched the Queen's back, during a tour of Canberraâs Parliament House.
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