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Dear leaders, please watch your language!

By Georgi Gotev

UK PM hopeful Boris Johnson called the French “turds”.   Footage of Johnson calling the French what could be translated in their language as « merde » was cut from a BBC documentary following a request from the Foreign Office, the Daily Mail reported Friday.

Some see it as censorship, other thought it was more important to avoid a diplomatic scandal. A Whitehall memo seen by the paper said the Foreign Office asked for the footage to be cut, saying it would make Anglo-French relations “awkward” and make Brexit negotiations more difficult.

Terse statements have become commonplace these days. Donald Trump said on Wednesday that Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager “hates the US” more than any person he has ever met. One particular person with a nuclear button comes to mind, with whom Trump has met twice, and it’s really unfair to see Kim Jong-un as a better friend of the United States than the Danish EU Commissioner.

The same Donald has called Jean-Claude Juncker “brutal killer”, the Commission chief revealed himself. We can only try to imagine what language leaders use when there are no microphones around, or when they think there are no microphones.  Commissioner Günther Oettinger was caught on tape describing the Chinese as “slitty eyes” and mocking women and gay marriage. Berlusconi has said about Merkel terrible words.

Matteo Salvini, who heads the far-right League party and is tapping into an increasingly eurosceptic mood in Italy, has consistently insulted EU leaders. “People like Juncker and Moscovici have ruined Europe and our country” is just one of his many quotes

Good guys also talk rough. When last September Salvini called the migrants “slaves” needed to replace the children people were no longer having, Luxembourgish Foreign Minister Jean Asselborn exclaimed that Luxembourg has over the years received migrants from Italy so people in Italy would have money for their children, adding « merde alors».

Bulgaria is not alien to the use of terse statements. When the leader of the Greens Ska Keller visited Sofia last year, during the Bulgarian Presidency of the Council of the EU, Deputy Prime Minister Valery Simeonov called her “Green Jihadist” and wrote threats and insults we chose not to reproduce.  

We can only imagine what leaders say at summits. The Sunday summit will be a tough one…

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