TRUMP CONFUSED THE BALTICS WITH BALKANS—AND ACCUSED CONFUSED LEADERS OF STARTING YUGOSLAV WARS: REPORT
President Donald Trump confused the Baltic states in Europe with the Balkans—and chastised leaders of the former for starting wars in the 1990s that lead to the break-up of Yugoslavia, French daily Le Monde reported.
Trump reportedly made the mistake in a White House meeting with Dalia Grybauskaitė of Lithuania, Kersti Kaljulaid of Estonia and Raimonds Vējonis of Latvia in April.
The leaders were reportedly confused by the president’s accusation, and it took them a minute to realize he had confused the Balkans and the Baltics.
The Baltic states lie in northern Europe, on the eastern coast of the Baltic Sea.
Around 1,000 miles away sits the Balkan region in south-eastern Europe. It comprises states including Croatia, Bosnia-Herzegovina and Serbia.
Much of the region was incorporated into the state of Yugoslavia, which became a socialist state after German occupying forces were ousted following World War II.
In the 1990s Yugoslavia disintegrated and the region was torn apart in a series of civil wars, culminating with the Kosovo war of 1998-1999.
Trump’s mistake is perhaps more surprising given that his wife, Melania, was born in Slovenia, a state that was part of Yugoslavia until 1991.
Trump, according to the Le Monde report, remained “apparently uneducated in the matter by his wife, Melania, originally from the former Yugoslavia”.
The report comes with new tensions emerging this weekend between Trump and the U.S.’s traditional European allies. The president is in Europe this weekend for events marking the centenary of the end of the First World War.
On Friday, Trump attacked French president Emanuel Macron on Twitter, after the French leader said that Europe needed to take more responsibility for its own security.
The president faced widespread criticism Saturday for canceling a visit to Belleau, where 2,000 U.S. Marines were killed in combat in 1918, because it was raining.
In a speech in Paris on Sunday, Macron criticised nationalism—with self-declared nationalist Trump sitting only meters away.
“Patriotism is the exact opposite of nationalism: nationalism is a betrayal of patriotism,” said Macron, at the Armistice Day commemoration under the Arc de Triomphe.
“By pursuing our own interests first, with no regard to others’, we erase the very thing that a nation holds most precious, that which gives it life and makes it great: its moral values.”
This article was corrected on Sunday to state that Yugoslava became a socialist state after World War II.