Responding to critics claiming that the deep curtsey she made after dancing with Vladimir Putin amounted to an act of submission, Austria's Foreign Minister Karin Kneissl said that it was a customary gesture and that Putin had bowed to her first.
"That was interpreted as an act of submission, but people who know me know I do not submit to anybody," Karin Kneissl said in an interview on Austrian radio ORF on Saturday.
"If you've seen a ball opening, then you will have seen again and again that there is this curtsey at the end," she added.
Kneissl said that, in keeping with tradition, she had invited the Austrian president and her fellow ministers to her wedding and on June 5, as President Putin was on a visit to Vienna, she also invited him to come over. She told him that she wanted to introduce him to her future husband.
She emphasized the importance of personal contacts for “establishing an atmosphere of trust when dealing with complex situations which certainly exist also in our relations with Russia for various reasons.”
Kneissl, a Middle East expert without political affiliation, has taken a lot of flak from political opponents over her bow to the Russian president, with some critics describing it as being detrimental to the country’s reputation.
Her decision to invite Putin to her wedding had raised some eyebrows in Austria with former Federal Chancellor Franz Vranitzky saying that the visit by the Russian president was a "strange process that fits both domestic and foreign and socio-political purposes."
MEP from the Austrian party The Greens Michel Reimon called on Kneissl to resign over Putin’s attendance at her wedding ceremony.
Karin Kneissl, 53, married businessman Wolfgang Meilinger in a ceremony in the city of Graz on August 18.
Vladimir Putin spent about an hour at the ceremony where he danced with the bride, before flying to Berlin for a meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel.
Kneissl invited Putin to attend her wedding during his visit to Vienna on June 5.