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A ‘Soviet vassal state’? UK’s Hunt slammed for gaffe on Slovenia trip

A ‘Soviet vassal state’? UK’s Hunt slammed for gaffe on Slovenia trip
Not to be outdone by his gaffe-prone predecessor Boris Johnson, UK Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt is being mocked online, after mistakenly claiming that Slovenia was a “vassal state” of the Soviet Union.

The UK’s foreign minister made the embarrassing error during a trip to Ljubljana on Thursday, where he was meeting his Slovenian counterpart, Miro Cerar, to discuss the ongoing Brexit negotiations.

However, rather than fostering some good will for the UK’s exit from the bloc, Hunt angered locals by showing a clear lack of historical and geopolitical understanding during the post-meeting press conference.

Lauding the radical changes that have transformed Slovenia from “a Soviet vassal state” to a “modern European democracy,” Hunt said Slovenia represented an example of “Europe at its best.”

Unfortunately for Hunt, Slovenia was never part of the Warsaw Pact that aligned countries to the Soviet Union during the Cold War. Instead, Slovenia made up the wealthiest state within Yugoslavia, which, while Communist, was never a pact member.

Under the leadership of Josip Tito, Yugoslavia resisted Soviet efforts to bring it under the Kremlin’s influence, founding the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) in 1961 with India’s Jawaharlal Nehru.

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One of the first to slam Hunt for the error was former speaker of Slovenia’s national assembly, Milan Brglez. In a Facebook post on Friday, Brglez accused Hunt of “arrogantly lecturing” Slovenians and of insulting both the state and its citizens.

Back in Blighty, the Twitterati reacted with a mixture of humor and despair. “The gaffes keep coming,” wrote one user, who went on to point out that Oxford graduate Hunt’s lack of knowledge was a “poor advert” for the university’s prestigious Philosophy, Politics, and Economics (PPE) degree program.

“Well...to be fair. This is the same man whose not really sure if his wife is Chinese or Japanese,” wrote another, referring to the time Hunt forgot his wife’s nationality during a ties-boosting trip to Beijing.

It’s not the first time Hunt has had an attempt to slam the West’s Cold War adversary backfire. In October, he compared the “prison” of EU membership to the Soviet Union, during a speech at the Conservative Party conference. While the attack went down well with the Tory faithful, the face of British diplomacy sparked condemnation from EU members and officials.

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