Jean-Claude Juncker, the European Commission President, has shown up in an oddly cheerful mood at an international summit in Latvia. He slapped and hugged world leaders, compared his tie to theirs, sparking speculation that he was drunk as a sailor.
The video showing Juncker’s unorthodox diplomacy was shot during the EU-Eastern Partnership summit, which was held on May 21-22 in Latvia.
Standing in front of the cameras alongside fellow EU official Donald Tusk, who heads the European Council, and the host nation’s prime minister, Laimdota Straujuma, Juncker made a number of friendly gestures which may seem too frivolous for the occasion.
He slapped several fellow leaders on the face, according to a video of the event published last week, and kissed some on the cheek. Another guest he asked to bow so that he could kiss his balding head.
With two male delegates, Junker compared the color of their ties. He also jokingly reproached Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras for not wearing one.
Junker greeted Spanish Foreign Minister José García-Margallo y Marfil with a military salute. The perplexed politician, who has no military background, awkwardly returned the compliment.
Earlier media reports mentioned Junker’s cheery disposition at the media conference, buy they focused on the way he introduced the approaching Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban with the words: “The dictator is coming.” Orban is known for his Eurosceptic views and is accused of attacking democratic values by critics.
The EU official has long been speculated to be a heavy drinker and previously demonstrated off behavior in public. At the time of his nomination in 2014, the Financial Times joked: “Perhaps the next EU President could have one of those slogans on the office wall – ‘You don’t have to be drunk to work here, but it helps.’”