PRESIDENT CHIRAC stormed out of the first session of a European Union summit dominated by a row over French nationalism because a fellow Frenchman insisted on speaking English.
Einstein was right: Nationalism is an infantile disease:
When M Seillière, who is an English-educated steel baron, started a presentation to all 25 EU leaders, President Chirac interrupted to ask why he was speaking in English. M Seillière explained: “I’m going to speak in English because that is the language of business.”
Without saying another word, President Chirac, who lived in the US as a student and speaks fluent English, walked out, followed by his Foreign, Finance and Europe ministers, leaving the 24 other European leaders stunned
But it gets better:
Embarrassed French diplomats tried to explain away the walk-out, saying that their ministers all needed a toilet break at the same time.
[update 2006-03-24 14:58:13: Commenter veryretired makes a very good point below that the very fact that we view this episode as merely funny says a great deal about the standing of France in the world. It just doesn't matter anymore if the leader of France is a fruitcake or not ]