French President Nicolas Sarkozy and former Russian president Vladimir Putin are known for having a colorful and unpredictable relationship.
First, as German blogger Yaschka Mounk reported, there was the rumor that Sarkozy might have had one too many drinks with Putin before a Press conference in 2007 (see video below):
Then, as you can see in French blog rue89, there was the infamous cover of a Polish magazine that displayed a modified photo of Putin spanking Sarkozy, graphically criticizing the current leader of the European Union for being too lenient with Russia over the Georgian crisis. It turns out that Sarkozy did have some influence over Putin when they met to discuss this matter. In the Netherlands, Michael Van der Galien at the Poligazette, quoting from the Times of London, writes that Sarkozy was successful at preventing Putin from further escalating the crisis in Georgia:
When Sarkozy was in Moscow in August this year, in order to establish peace between Georgia and Russia, Vladimir Putin told Sarkozy he wanted to hang Saakashvili â€œby the balls,â€ meaning forcibly removing him from power.
Sarkozy told Putin that the international community would not accept that from Moscow. Putin didnâ€™t care. â€œâ€œI am going to hang Saakashvili by the balls,â€ he said.
Sarkozy thought he had misheard. â€œHang him?â€ â€” he asked. â€œWhy not?â€ Putin replied. â€œThe Americans hanged Saddam Hussein.â€
Sarkozy, using the familiar tu, tried to reason with him: â€œYes but do you want to end up like [President] Bush?â€ Putin was briefly lost for words, then said: â€œAh â€” you have scored a point there.â€
1. Sarkozy saved Saakashvili
2. Fear of â€œending up like Bushâ€ now functions as deterrent
World bloggers are picking up the meme that the fear of being like Bush might be the most effective way to prevent world leaders from acting too impetuously.
Alex Massie from Scotland, calls President GW Bush: “the Inadvertent Peacemaker“. Superfrenchie ( France) is amused that the language of diplomacy can be so colorful.
However, others are not pleased that this conversation was leaked to the Press. In the comment section of the original article, Richard Grey in London writes:
good Bush joke, but shame the French leaked this out. Sarkozy is Europe's strongest leader, he needs other leaders of the world to trust he wouldn't send confidential conversations out to the press
In the same comment section,Angel, from Sofia, Bulgaria, agrees:
This is french propaganda campaign which sought to reassure other european countries that their security and well-being can depend on the french paper tiger.
It is also possible for them to play good cop bad cop with the russians, with the aim of replacing NATO with ESDP.
Even a French blogger concurs. Pierre Vienot in New York, US, protests:
“Monsieur le President, self promotion is unacceptable! Your advisor should shut up.”