The episode with the French ex-president was during a dinner at the French embassy in Copenhagen, when Valéry Giscard d’Estaing in 2002-2003 was president of the European Convention, which was to draw up a European constitutional treaty.
The ex-president was at the time in his late 70s. Helle Thorning-Schmidt was in her 30s, a member of the Convention and a member of the European Parliament.
– In the middle of it all, I noticed that Giscard d’Estaing was sitting and taking me by the thigh under the table. It was crazy. I thought: What’s going on? I moved, and then it stopped, writes Helle Thorning-Schmidt in the book.
She emphasizes to Ritzau that she does not see the episode as particularly serious compared to what has otherwise emerged during the past year’s metoo wave.
– Today one would have perceived it as sexual harassment. That was not done then. It was a different time, but I perceived it as inappropriate and also became very angry in the situation, says Helle Thorning-Schmidt.
She has chosen to share the episode to show that women in all walks of life are experiencing inappropriate behavior.
– I want to show that it is not one kind of women who is being harassed. It can happen anywhere – even during a nice embassy dinner.
– At the same time, I have experienced many men being surprised at how many women have experienced inappropriate behavior, and I would like to show that they do not have to be, says Helle Thorning-Schmidt.
Valéry Giscard d’Estaing was President of France from 1974-1981. He died in December last year of coronavirus.
Last year, a German journalist accused him of having sexually harassed her in an interview in December 2018. According to the journalist, the ex-president took on her three times, the news agency AFP wrote.
At the time, it sounded from his lawyer that d’Estaing did not remember the incident.
Ritzau has tried to get a comment from the lawyer for Thorning’s book, but he has not returned.
In the book, Helle Thorning-Schmidt tells about two other cases with two “bosses”, which she experienced in the 1990s and early 00s, when she worked for the Danish Social Democrats in the European Parliament and was later elected to parliament.
– One time I was leaning over a table and arranging some papers when my 20-year-old boss came into the room and casually said something to the effect that I must not stand like that, because then he could not concentrate at all. themselves or govern themselves, it appears from the book.
In the second case, another boss walked by with a rolled-up newspaper in his hand and slapped her in the back with a laugh.
Helle Thorning-Schmidt does not name or more precisely the men, because her wish in that context has only been to show that the inappropriate behavior took place.
Source: The Nordic Page