Germany forced to apologise to the African Union

The German Foreign Ministry in Berlin Photo: Social Market Economy initiative / Creative Commons

GERMANY was forced to apologise on Thursday for using a leopard emoji in a childish jibe at Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov on Twitter that ended up offending some Africans.

The German foreign ministry poked fun at Russia’s top diplomat during his tour of Africa when it tweeted that he wasn’t there looking for leopards, but using the trip to try and justify Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine.

The leopard emoji the foreign ministry used on its official account, played off Germany’s decision to send advanced Leopard II tanks to the Ukrainian army.

But Ebba Kalondo, spokeswoman for African Union chairman Moussa Faki Mahamat, tweeted: “Foreign policy is not a joke nor should it be used to score cheap geopolitical points by illustrating an entire continent with colonial tropes”.

The German Foreign Ministry apologised and said that the tweet wasn’t meant to offend, but rather “to call out the lies that Russia uses to justify its imperialist war of aggression against Ukraine.”

Mr Lavrov has visited South Africa, Eswatini [Swaziland], Angola and Eritrea this week, where he has repeated his claims that the United States and its Western allies are using Ukraine as a tool in a “hybrid war” against Russia.

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