Wrong flag causes diplomatic faux pas in Poland

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Friday, October 6, 2006

Flag of Russia
Flag of the Czech Republic

During the official visit of Sergey Lavrov, Foreign Minister of Russia, to Poland, which was to revive the strained diplomatic relationship between the two countries, an embarrassing mistake was committed by the hosts. When Lavrov was greeted by the entrance to the Polish Foreign Ministry building, the courtyard was decorated with Czech, rather than Russian flags. The Ministry's employees quickly discovered the mistake and replaced the flags with the right ones, and the Russian part did not express any concern about the faux pas.

It became, however, one of the top stories in the Polish media that day, prompting extensive ridicule. On the Russian part, the Rossiyskaya Gazeta, Russia's government newspaper, commented ironically that the discontinuity in contacts between Warsaw and Moscow was so prolonged that the Polish Foreign Ministry apparently forgot what the Russian flag looks like. The gazette also went on to joke about the possible troubles Minister Lavrov might have had distinguishing between Poland's current President and Prime Minister, who are identical twins.

While the Russian paper also recalled a similar incident that occurred more than a year ago in Athens, where the Russian flag was hung upside down, in Poland an event that was related to was the hanging of the Polish flag on the Polish President's limousine upside down, which made it almost identical to flags of Monaco or Indonesia.