Recently Iran has been hosting and visiting foreign governments and officials. All a part of their rebranding efforts to appear as regional and global actors of stability and economic partners of good faith in an effort to shake off the stereotype of a closed-off, rigid and theocratic society.
But you wouldn’t know that by how they acted as guests.
First in Italy, President Hassan Rouhani made a visit. He met president Matteo Renzi and even the Pope. However, he seemed to be rather bothered by the human anatomy chiseled in marble. He couldn’t handle having stone tah-tah’s staring him in the face. I suppose it’s distracting. Can’t imagine why, but nevertheless, the Italians acquiesced to the Iranian requests and covered up all the marble boobies and balls. Italy also took all wine of their menus, which was condemned by some of their politicians as “cultural submission.” Hashtag: Diplomacy
There’s nothing rigid at all about insisting a country cover up priceless works of art that partly define Italian identity for the delicate sensibilities of one leader. Happens all the time, I’m sure.
The same situation arose in France when the foreign delegation from Tehran arrived in Paris to visit with president Francois Hollande. Again, the Iranians had a problem with wine being served on the lunch menu of the official state meal. Being France, wine is served at most meals, but Rouhani wasn’t concerned about local customs and norms. He wanted it removed.
Hollande’s solution was simple, yet effective. He just cancelled the lunch. Which is understandable when one looks at it from the French perspective. It’s not really a meal without wine. Say what you want historically about France, but those people know how to have a good time. Honestly, I can’t believe the Italians put away the vino for Rouhani, but I guess Italy really needed those Iranian contracts. Only time will tell.
In the mean time, I hope you all will join me the next time you are enjoying your adult beverage of choice in raising a glass for France. Catching a buzz at a boring work lunch is a right all Westerners should enjoy no matter who may be visiting.
Vive la France!