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Sunday 16 December 2018

Taoiseach uses high society ball TV interview to try out his German skills

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar, Model Waris Dirie, Susanne Thier and Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz pose prior the opening of the Opera Ball 2018 AFP PHOTO / APA / ROLAND SCHLAGER / Austria OUTROLAND SCHLAGER/AFP/Getty Images
Taoiseach Leo Varadkar, Model Waris Dirie, Susanne Thier and Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz pose prior the opening of the Opera Ball 2018 AFP PHOTO / APA / ROLAND SCHLAGER / Austria OUTROLAND SCHLAGER/AFP/Getty Images

Cormac McQuinn Political Correspondent

Sprechen sie Deutsch? Taosieach Leo Varadkar used a TV interview at a high society ball in Vienna to certainly make a stab at it and try out his German skills.

He attended the white-tie Opera Ball at the invitation of Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz last night.

Other guests included Hollywood actors Lily James and Melanie Griffith as well as Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko.

While Mr Poroshenko’s attendance was met with a topless protester who was taken away by police, Mr Varadkar’s biggest challenge was the television interview conducted partly in German.

Having earlier in the week launched an education plan aimed at encouraging students to learn European languages, Mr Varadkar put his money where his mouth is during his appearance on Austria’s ORF TV.

He explained where he learned German and spoke of the similarities between Ireland and Austria noting that they are “kleine Länder“ (small countries) and both militarily nuetral.

He returned to English when it appears he didn’t quite have the German words to explain that both countries “work together against nuclear weapons and nuclear proliferation”

He also noted: ”We have governments led by people in their 30s”.

Austrian President Alexander Van der Bellen, Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz and his partner Susanne Thier and Taoiseach Leo Varadkar stand prior the opening of the Opera Ball 2018, the sumptuous highlight of the Austrian capital's ball season, on February 8, 2018 at the State Opera House in Vienna. / AFP PHOTO / APA / GEORG HOCHMUTH / Austria OUTGEORG HOCHMUTH/AFP/Getty Images
Austrian President Alexander Van der Bellen, Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz and his partner Susanne Thier and Taoiseach Leo Varadkar stand prior the opening of the Opera Ball 2018, the sumptuous highlight of the Austrian capital's ball season, on February 8, 2018 at the State Opera House in Vienna. / AFP PHOTO / APA / GEORG HOCHMUTH / Austria OUTGEORG HOCHMUTH/AFP/Getty Images

Mr Varadkar (39), has been overtaken by Mr Kurz (31) as Europe’s youngest leader – who revealed last night that he learned English in Bray, Co Wicklow.

The presenter asked Mr Varadkar about how his earlier career as a doctor has impacted on his work as a politician.

She said she hoped he’d have a wonderful night and mentioned that whiskey was being served at the event.

“I hope it’s Irish and not Scottish,” Mr Varadkar replied to the presenter, who didn’t seem sure where it was from.

Vienna tabloid newspaper Heute devoted several pages of coverage to the Opera Ball today with photographs of the glamour on display and a picture of Mr Varadkar and other politicians present.

The annual ball is attended each year by Vienna’s political, business and showbiz elite.

Melanie Griffith was a guest of building tycoon Richard Lugner who previously invited Kim Kardashian and Paris Hilton.

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