European foreign ministers and dignitaries were left stood up by Boris Johnson at a summit he was supposed to be hosting them at in London before deciding to resign.
Britain volunteered to host the meeting of EU and Balkans governments to discuss the future of the region and its relationship with the EU on Monday and Tuesday this week.
Ministers from the six western Balkan countries as well as those from Germany, Austria, France, Poland, and other EU countries were due to hear Mr Johnson speak at the event but were left wondering where he was.
While Mr Johnson locked himself behind closed doors with allies deciding whether to resign instead of attending the summit, German foreign minister Michael Roth, attending the summit tweeted: “We’re still waiting for our host…”
The annual meeting is a major event for Balkan states and their neighbours, with some sending large delegations and taking it seriously: Croatia, for instance, was represented by prime minister Andrej Plenkovic, Foreign Minister Marija Buric Pejcinovic, and Interior Minister Davor Bozinovic.
Mr Johnson was due to unveil £10 million in aid funding to help young people in the Western Balkans improve their digital skills. Ahead of the meeting he missed, the outgoing Foreign Secretary said the announcement “demonstrates the UK’s enduring commitment to the Western Balkans region”.
The summit was part of the so-called Berlin Process of promoting EU access for Bosnia, Serbia, Montenegro, Albania, Kosovo, and Albania, who aspire to join the EU.
The Foreign Office was earlier this year accused of having a “sense of humour” for hosting a summit promoting the benefits of EU membership while Britain headed towards the exit door.
The summit is going ahead as planned with other speakers and without Mr Johnson’s input.
The Independent has contacted the Foreign Office for comment on the outgoing Foreign Secretary’s no-show.