When Donald Trump barged past the leader of NATO’s next member to bask in the media spotlight at the alliance’s summit, footage of the incident soon flooded the internet.
The U.S. president was caught on camera jostling Montenegrin Prime Minister Dusko Markovic out of the way to secure a prime spot for a photo opportunity as NATO heads of state gathered Thursday in Brussels.
Among those who reacted: “Harry Potter” author J.K. Rowling, who posted a short clip of the encounter between Trump and Markovic with the message, “You tiny, tiny, tiny little man.”
You tiny, tiny, tiny little man.— J.K. Rowling (@jk_rowling) May 25, 2017
While White House spokesman Sean Spicer said he hadn’t seen the video, the press in and around the tiny Balkan country weren’t amused.
“America First!” cried one CNN affiliate in the region, while Montenegro’s Vijesti newspaper said Trump purposely “removed” Markovic to hog the limelight. In neighboring Serbia, the Alo tabloid called the move “brutal,” with the Blic newspaper claiming Trump wanted to “show who’s in charge.”
Montenegro, a nation of 600,000 people, is set to become NATO’s 29th member on June 5, the third former Yugoslav republic to join the alliance after Slovenia and Croatia. Historic affinity to Russia has soured over NATO accession, with the Kremlin denying allegations it backed a failed coup attempt in October to overthrow Montenegro’s pro-Western leadership.
Russia reveled in the controversy around Trump’s shove. Alexei Pushkov, a member of the upper house of parliament, said it demonstrated Montenegro’s “genuine place” within NATO. But Markovic himself brushed off the incident.
“It’s only natural for the president of the United States to be in the front row,” he said in a statement on the government website. Markovic thanked Trump for supporting his country’s NATO membership and downplayed the scene as “harmless.”