President Chirac's sense of self-irony is not normally his strong suit, but you have to hand it to him for effort. The little jokes he made to his fellow "statesmen" Schroeder and Putin in Königsberg are dripping with an almost British sense of self-mockery. But only a Frenchman could link international politics so unequivocally to food.
"You can't trust people who cook as badly as that," he remarked of the British. He recalled a meeting with the previous head of NATO, George Robertson, during which the Scot is alleged to have foisted haggis on the unsuspecting President. Chirac dates all of France's subsequent "problems" with NATO to that moment. And his observation that "the only thing the British have ever given European farming is mad cow disease" is, if anything, over-generous. Clearly, the French President has forgotten the great salmonella scare.
Normally speaking, this blog doesn't have any time for the likes of Chirac. But all credit to him for trying to lighten up the atmosphere in advance of what will be a distinctly bloody G8 meeting in Edinburgh.
Telegraph News Chirac: 'The only thing the British have ever given European farming is mad cow'