War in Europe: Congratulations, but no celebration, at Nato's 50th party...
Sunday 25 April 1999
Then Mrs Blair took the platform at the end of the room and made a passionate appeal for the plight of children abducted and taken abroad by estranged parents. This was not just another summiteers' reception, it was the launch of a children's charity set up by the British Ambassador's wife, Lady Meyer. "Very New Labour," one diplomat said disapprovingly.
Delegates at the Nato summit were all too aware of how it would look if they were seen guzzling champagne while discussing the plight of ethnic Albanians forced to flee their homes in Kosovo. The celebrations for this 50th birthday party were dramatically scaled back, and the emphasis of those which went ahead was on worthiness.
The politicians and their aides did get to a few parties - Bill Clinton hosted a dinner for leaders and their wives at the White House on Friday night, while Madeleine Albright and William Cohen organised a similar event for foreign and defence ministers at the State Department. And the mayor of Washington gave a glitzy reception for delegates at the National Building Museum on Saturday night. But everybody was concentrating on making sure it did not look as if they were having too much fun.
A black-tie dinner for heads of state and 800 grandees had been planned by the White House for Saturday night. It was downgraded into a less formal lounge-suit event, and an expected performance by Barbra Streisand was cancelled because it was felt to be inappropriate. The exuberant flag- waving commemoration ceremony was slashed from five hours to less than two. "Champagne is definitely off the menu," one organiser said.
This was all slightly unfortunate for the companies which had given $250,000 each to become members of the board of the Nato Anniversary Summit Host Committee. More than pounds 8m was raised in corporate sponsorship for the Washington event. Ford, Microsoft and Motorola were among the most generous donors, earning a place on the board. Dozens more organisations gave money or gifts in kind - Mercedes cars from one company to drive delegates around, bottles of gin for the parties from another.
But donors had hoped to be associated with one of the most glamorous events of the year. They thought they would have access to lobby the heads of 40 states. In fact, the Kosovo crisis meant that the tone of the event changed drastically at the last minute. Only one mobile phone company bothered to set up an exhibition stand in the conference centre. The others were worried that commercial activity would look tasteless against the backdrop of ethnic cleansing.
"The summit is not exactly celebratory any more," one member of the host committee said. "It's no longer the ideal corporate sponsorship event."
- 2 Harry Potter fans can apply to the Hogwarts-inspired College of Wizardry
- 3 Jessica Chambers: 19-year-old woman 'doused with lighter fluid and burned alive' in the US
- 4 Russell Brand calls Nigel Farage 'poundshop Enoch Powell' in BBC Question Time debate
- 5 Orange Wednesdays are no more
Weather bomb in pictures: Storms cuts power for tens of thousands – and snow is on the way
Jessica Chambers: 19-year-old woman 'doused with lighter fluid and burned alive' in the US
Russell Brand calls Nigel Farage 'poundshop Enoch Powell' in BBC Question Time debate
Russell Brand was rendered speechless on Question Time by this man
Fury at Airbus after it hints the super-jumbo may be mothballed
Disgruntled RBS worker writes hilarious open letter to Russell Brand after anti-capitalist publicity stunt leaves him hungry
Nigel Farage's approval rating hits 'record low' as popularity suffers in wake of Ukip sex scandal
Nigel Farage defends Kerry Smith 'ch***y' comment: 'If you are going for a Chinese, what do you say you’re going for?'
Pakistan school attack live: Taliban kill at least 132 children in 'horrifying' massacre
Sony hack: Angelina Jolie branded 'seriously out of her mind' in further embarrassing leaked email saga
Panic Saturday: 13 million Britons spend £1.2bn – while 13 million others across the country live in poverty unable to afford food
£65000 - £80000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Finance Director required to jo...
£15000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a unique opportunity fo...
£50000 per annum + 26 days holiday,pension: Ashdown Group: A highly successful...
£27000 per annum + pension + holidays: The Jenrick Group: A Quality Technician...