Saturday

3rd Dec 2016

EU leaders court Obama with bling, vodka

What do you give a man who has everything, including the White House?

A bamboo bicycle? Bird-shaped cufflinks? Some coffee in a fancy box?

Dear EUobserver reader

Subscribe now for unrestricted access to EUobserver.

Sign up for 30 days' free trial, no obligation. Full subscription only 15 € / month or 150 € / year.

  1. Unlimited access on desktop and mobile
  2. All premium articles, analysis, commentary and investigations
  3. EUobserver archives

EUobserver is the only independent news media covering EU affairs in Brussels and all 28 member states.

♡ We value your support.

If you already have an account click here to login.

  • Sarkozy favoured designerware, while Merkel opted for CDs and adidas t-shirts (Photo: aic.cz)

US President Barack Obama got all the above and lots more in 2009 according to a register of diplomatic gifts published by his protocol department this week.

Most of it ends up in storage in the National Archives and Records Administration in Washington.

Some of the best pieces, such as a framed photo from a Brazilian governor worth $40,000, is loaned to museums.

The coffee, and other "perishable goods," have the mysterious destiny of being "handled pursuant to US Secret Service policy."

And what does the gift say about you?

In terms of European presents, former French leader Nicolas Sarkozy, known at home as "President Bling-Bling" for his flashy style, lived up to his reputation.

The long list of Sarkozy gifts includes: a $7,750 Hermes golf accessory bag; $15,000 worth of Dupont fountain pens, calvados and glassware; a $1,650 crystal statuette of a golfer; a $2,300 Louis Vuitton man-bag; a $2,000 Hermes travel case and a Laguiole letter-opener; as well as $6,200 worth of Lancel and Christian Dior bags and "his and hers white, belted Dior bathrobes with 'Dior' embroidered on the breast pocket."

In each case, the protocol office duly noted: "non-acceptance would cause embarrassment to donor and US government."

Sarkozy's wife, model-singer Carla Bruni, also showered Michelle Obama with presents.

The US first lady got $5,500 of Baccarat crystal table lamps and designer perfumes. Her kids got pink and green outfits from the Bonpoint label.

Sarkozy's foreign minister, Alain Juppe, gave Obama's former secretary of state, Hillary Clinton, some pointedly feminine items.

She received a $385 Hermes silk scarf and a $2,400 calfskin Dior handbag.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel, the muse of EU austerity, offered relatively modest ware.

She gave Barack Obama $1,400 of golf clubs. She offered Michelle Obama $1,300 of wine glasses and German wine.

But she gave the US first children Adidas t-shirts and swimming goggles, while Hillary Clinton got music CDs.

For his part, British leader David Cameron opted for a $1,400 tapestry of the US flag and some silver children's bracelets.

But British royals made up the shortfall with: $700 worth of china cups; $2,000 worth of gold broaches and porcelain; a $2,800 leather-clad book; and a $4,000 "silver trinket box."

Pre-bailout Ireland also came across as fairly generous.

The Irish leader, Enda Kenny, once gave Obama $3,200 worth of books, photos and shamrock-engraved crystal bowls.

On another occasion, he threw in a "wooden hurling stick with black electrical tape near top and bottom."

Meanwhile, Poland kept up the theme of showcasing national products, even at the risk of reinforcing national stereotypes.

Its President, Bronislaw Komorowski, gave Obama five bottles of fruit-flavoured vodka, while its Prime Minister, Donald Tusk, gave a bottle of bison-grass-flavoured Zubrowka vodka and a set of Zubrowka-logo shot glasses.

Commission won't call Castro a dictator

The EU executive says that a statement decribing the former Cuban leader as a "hero for many" is balanced and suggests that the use of the word dictator by a commissioner doesn't reflect its position.

News in Brief

  1. Talks on wholesale roaming rules to start
  2. Lead MEP Dieselgate committee: Italy and Slovakia will cooperate
  3. Transparency NGO sues EU commission on Turkey deal
  4. Pro-EU liberal wins UK by-election
  5. Finnish support for Nato drops, Russia-scepticism grows
  6. Cyprus talks to resume in January
  7. Documents from German NSA inquiry released
  8. Transport commissioner 'not aware' of legal action on emissions

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. CESIElects Leaders and Sets Safety & Health at Work and Gender Equality Among the Guidelines For Next Term
  2. European Gaming & Betting AssociationContinues to Grow its Membership and Welcomes its Newest Member Association
  3. ACCASupports the Women of Europe Awards, Celebrating the Women who are Building Europe
  4. European Heart NetworkWhat About our Kids? Protect Children From Unhealthy Food and Drink Marketing
  5. ECR GroupRestoring Trust and Confidence in the European Parliament
  6. UNICEFChild Rights Agencies Call on EU to put Refugee and Migrant Children First
  7. MIRAIA New Vision on Clean Tech: Balancing Energy Efficiency, Climate Change and Costs
  8. World VisionChildren Cannot Wait! 7 Priority Actions to Protect all Refugee and Migrant Children
  9. ANCI LazioRegio-Mob Project Delivers Analysis of Trasport and Mobility in Rome
  10. SDG Watch EuropeCivil Society Disappointed by the Commission's Plans for Sustainable Development Goals
  11. PLATO15 Fully-Funded PhD Positions Open – The Post-Crisis Legitimacy of the EU (PLATO)
  12. Access NowTell the EU Council: Protect our Rights to Privacy and Security