European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker was seen stumbling and struggling to keep his balance before a gala dinner at the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation summit in Belgium, with Slovakia's president Milos Zeman and Ukraine's Petro Poroshenko having to support him.
Juncker was walking awkwardly and losing his balance ahead of the event, leading politicians, including the presidents of Finland and Ukraine and prime minister of the Netherlands, to offer their support to keep the 63-year-old upright.
Commission spokesman Margaritis Schinas said it was "more than tasteless" for the press to write "insulting headlines by exploiting President Juncker's pain".
Juncker has said he suffers from sciatica that sometimes affects his movements. "This was unfortunately the case on Wednesday night", the spokesperson said during the midday briefing.
Sciatica occurs when the sciatic nerve, which runs from the hips to the feet, is irritated.
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Asked if Juncker, who is also an admitted smoker, had mixed painkillers and alcohol, Schinas replied: 'No he didn't, at least I am not aware of this happening'. "He is taking medication and feels better".
Costa said yesterday that Juncker had complained of back pain.
The German government weighed in on Friday, with spokesman Steffen Seibert saying Berlin has a "very high level of confidence" in the Commission president. However, later in the day, EU Commission said that its President was suffering from back pain, thus confirming previous EU officials' claims. In 2015, he was filmed kissing European Union leaders on the head and slapping them on the stomach, chest and even the face.
Juncker also teased Hungary's hardline right-wing Prime Minister Viktor Orbán over his strongman reputation, jokingly greeting him as "dictator".