The strangest diplomatic feuds of 2021


As Patrick Kavanagh warned in his poem “Epic” (while channeling Homer’s Ghost), local disputes don’t always need to involve great rulers and heroic sacrifices to raise people’s blood pressure. involved. While care must be taken in giving weight to a diplomatic dispute, sometimes the affronts are, well, slight.

In a year of compiling Morning Brief, FP’s daily newsletter, I balance today’s news with the weird, the wonderful and the curious in our odds and ends section. There, you’ll find out which big bird bit Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro (most recently a rhea) or who is the winner of New Zealand’s Bird of the Year contest (a bat).

But it’s not just animal hijackings and unusual Brexit shortages – sometimes borders are inadvertently threatened, national pride is tested and the alcohol brand becomes an urgent interstate concern.

As Patrick Kavanagh warned in his poem “Epic” (while channeling Homer’s Ghost), local disputes don’t always need to involve great rulers and heroic sacrifices to raise people’s blood pressure. involved. While care must be taken in giving weight to a diplomatic dispute, sometimes the affronts are, well, slight.

In a year of compiling Morning Brief, FP’s daily newsletter, I balance today’s news with the weird, the wonderful and the curious in our odds and ends section. There, you’ll find out which big bird bit Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro (most recently a rhea) or who is the winner of New Zealand’s Bird of the Year competition (a bat).

But it’s not just animal hijackings and unusual Brexit shortages – sometimes borders are inadvertently threatened, national pride is tested and the alcohol brand becomes an urgent interstate concern.

Here are the five least essential diplomatic feuds of 2021.


1. France and Russia are bubbling over Shampanskoye

In July, the French champagne industry denounced a new Russian law forcing foreign importers to qualify their products as “sparkling wine”. The law was introduced to ensure that the term “Shampanskoye” refers only to Russian producers.

The Champagne Committee, the group representing the French champagne industry, urged its members to stop Russian shipments in protest and declared that it “deplores the fact that this legislation does not guarantee Russian consumers clear and transparent information on the origins and characteristics of the wine. “(The law required that French bottles only change their back labels.)

The boycott threat has met with moderate success, with Russian authorities suspending the new law until December 31, a big day for sparkling wine, whatever you call it.


2. The restaurant that fueled the Japan-Korea tensions

In October, North Korea and South Korea united in anger over a controversial bowl of Japanese seafood curry after reports surfaced online of the dish’s subversive attempts to claim a disputed group of islets. between Japan and the Korean Peninsula. According to Guardian, the meal, served by a restaurant on the Japanese island of Okinoshima, features two tufts of rice fashioned from the disputed islands known in Japan as Takeshima (which Koreans call Dokdo) with a miniature Japanese flag placed on the above.

A North Korean news site said the dish was surely a sign that Japan was planning to “capture” the islands, while a South Korean newspaper reported that the move was a “typical cheap trick” of Japanese.

South Korea’s small military garrison on the islands makes any surprise attack, beyond the culinary variety, unlikely.


3. Britain and Ukraine Argue over Chernobyl Alcohol

In May, makers of an artisanal liquor made from radioactive apples grown in the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone began a battle with the Ukrainian government, after authorities seized 1,500 bottles of the product before it broke. can be exported.

The drink, called Atomik, came into conflict with Ukrainian security officials, who said the company was using fake excise stamps, a claim disputed by company founder British academic Jim Smith. which ultimately turned out to be false in court.


4. Croatia and Italy face off against prosecco

A late and unresolved addition to the list, as Italian and Croatian winemakers fight over an imminent European Union decision on whether to grant a protected designation of origin to a Croatian dessert wine. The disagreement is over branding, with Croatian wine prosek seen as too close to Italian prosecco.

Luca Zaia, governor of Italy’s prosecco-producing Veneto, called the EU’s decision to regard the Croatian request as “shameful” and said it risked destroying “the history and identity of an territory”.


5. The Belgian farmer who violated the Treaty of Kortrijk

A classic of the genre (and an FP Morning Brief exclusive in English) arrived in May when Belgium inadvertently gained territory over its neighbor after a local farmer moved a centuries-old stone post marking the French border. -Belgian.

The farmer, from the Walloon municipality of Erquelinnes, moved the boundary stone about 6.5 feet to facilitate the passage of his tractor, thus breaking the Treaty of Kortrijk signed in 1820.

After good-natured talks with his French counterpart in the neighboring town of Bousignies-sur-Roc, the mayor of Erquelinnes, David Lavaux, settled the diplomatic storm by asking the farmer to put the stone back where he had it. found. “He enlarged Belgium. He reduced France. It was not a good idea. But I was happy that my city was getting bigger, ”Lavaux joked.


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