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16 Nov, 2023 19:45

Dog bites president

The Moldovan leader’s rescue pup did not welcome pets from the Austrian visitor
Dog bites president

Austrian President Alexander Van der Bellen ended up with a bandaged hand in Chisinau on Thursday, after a dog belonging to his Moldovan counterpart, Maia Sandu, took exception to an attempted petting.

Van der Bellen and his Slovenian colleague Natasa Musar had arrived in Moldova to endorse Sandu’s push to join the European Union. 

“Delighted to welcome presidents Van der Bellen of Austria and Musar of Slovenia to Chisinau today,” Sandu wrote on X, (formerly Twitter). “Our discussions highlighted strong support for Moldova’s EU path, marking a significant moment in our journey towards European accession.”

As part of a photo-op, Sandu introduced her dog Codrut to the visiting leaders. In pictures published by the Moldovan media, Sandu and Musar pet the dog as Van der Bellen looks on.

Just moments later, the Austrian leader bent over to give Codrut a pat on the head as well and the dog responded by biting his fingers. The unfortunate diplomatic incident was captured on TV cameras and shown by the Romanian outlet TVR.

Van der Bellen did not officially comment on the incident. His social media account continued to post “unwavering support” for Moldova’s EU membership and declare Austria “a close partner standing by the side of Moldova in these challenging times.”

Photographers in Chisinau, however, spotted him with a bandaged hand while he was entering the presidential palace and later while signing documents with Sandu. 

The Moldovan leader made a big deal out of adopting Codrut on social media earlier this year, noting that the pup had lost a leg in a car accident and was a rescued stray.

Earlier this month, the EU announced it would be willing to “finalize the negotiating framework” with Moldova in March 2024, if all the reforms required by the bloc – including sanctions against Russia – were fully carried out.

Sandu’s government has pushed hard for EU and NATO membership since 2020, going so far as to ban critics and ask Brussels to sanction those opposed to the idea. Her ruling Party of Action and Solidarity (PAS) faced a backlash in the local elections earlier this month, losing almost all major cities and Chisinau itself.