The waltz with Austria’s foreign minister was more than a PR stunt: it was a dagger in the heart of European liberal values
When Vladimir Putin took to the dancefloor to waltz with Austria’s foreign minister, Karin Kneissl, at her wedding last weekend, perhaps he wanted to send a signal that it was Europe he wanted to dance with. But which Europe? Surely not the Europe of the Enlightenment, embodied today by liberal democrats struggling to counter the populist wave. Rather a darker, more sinister side of Europe’s history and current politics.
Among the many wedding moments that drew disapproving comment on social media, the most significant was arguably when Kneissl curtsied to Putin, her head bowed, an image not unlike those of ancient Russian paintings where boyars pay homage to the tsar. But to me, something much more sinister was at play. Kneissl was appointed foreign minister last year thanks to the support of Austria’s far-right Freedom party, which as part of the governing coalition, now also controls the defence and home affairs ministries.