BRUSSELS — President Donald Trump's push to get in front of the pack at a NATO summit generated indignation in the Balkans and garnered attention on social media — but the man he shoved aside took it in stride.
At Thursday's gathering in Brussels, Trump put his right hand on the right arm of Montenegro Prime Minister Dusko Markovic and pushed himself ahead as NATO leaders walked inside the alliance's new headquarters and prepared for a group photo.
Trump then stood near Markovic and spoke to Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaite.
Video of the incident spread on social networks in multiple languages.
"It seems Donald Trump did not want that anyone overshadows his presence at the summit," said the Montenegro newspaper Vijesti.
Other Balkan websites ran headlines such as "America First" and "Where do you think you are going?"
Markovic himself, however, shrugged off the slight.
"It didn't really register. I just saw reactions about it on social networks. It is simply a harmless situation," he told reporters after the summit.
Instead of being insulted, he took the opportunity to thank Trump for supporting Montenegro's membership in NATO. The small former Yugoslav republic is slated to become NATO's 29th member next month.
And in any case, Markovic said, "it is natural that the president of the United States is in the front row."
Awkward Moments From Trump's First NATO SummitMay 25, 201700:20
A country of just 650,000 people with 2,000 military personnel and an area smaller than Connecticut, Montenegro has strategic value out of proportion to its size.
For nearly a decade after Montenegro split from Serbia in 2006, Moscow cultivated close ties with the former Yugoslav republic, and money poured in from Russian investors and tourists.
But Montenegro blamed Russia for an alleged plot to assassinate Markovic's predecessor last October which officials said was aimed at blocking its entry to NATO. The Kremlin called that absurd.