Slovakia refused to vote in the European Union run-off vote to decide the location of the European Medicines Agency (EMA), angry none of the newer members of the bloc made it past the first round.
The nation furiously tweeted geographical balance was “not respected”.
The vote was held in light of Britain opting to leave the EU in the Brexit referendum, with Brussels deciding the EMA and the European Banking Authority would have to move location to a country inside the bloc. They are currently based in London’s Canary Wharf.
Amsterdam was eventually chosen as the body’s new site after it tied with Milan in the first round of voting by EU ministers.
After the tie, lots were drawn to chose the host city.
It was a narrow victory for Amsterdam, however, as Milan almost won outright in the second round of voting. Just two more votes would have stopped the contest there.
The run-off between Amsterdam and Milan, after Copenhagen was knocked out, saw a 13-13 draw that had to be decided by lucky dip.
Bratislava, the capital of Slovakia, came fourth in the vote held at a General Affairs Council session in Brussels.
The EMA will move to the Dutch city once Britain has left the bloc in March 2019.
The medicines agency and pharmaceutical groups welcomed the decision following fears many of its leading staff members would have quit had the EU chosen a less attractive host city.
Slovakia was not so happy and health minister Tomáš Drucker said it abstained because none of the newer EU member countries made it past the first round.
The east European country made its feelings clear in a Twitter message that read: “Bratislava was a strong contestant and front runner. Based on high-quality offer and meeting ALL technical criteria. #geoggraphicalbalance was NOT respected.”
Italy’s EU affairs minister Sandro Gozi said the choice had left a “bitter taste in the mouth” for the team backing Milan to host the EMA.
After Milan won every previous round, he said: “It’s like losing a final on penalties.”
Peter Susko, spokesman for Slovakia’s Foreign Ministry, said: “We are convinced that the citizens of the European Union from the newer member states expected an important signal that showed that even the new member states would be given the opportunity to demonstrate their readiness to host such an important agency as the EMA.”
But the Initiative Inakosť, an association that promotes the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transsexual and intersexual people, indicated that one factor influencing the decision not to vote for Slovakia was that the country does not recognise same-sex marriages.
Martin Macko, executive director of the group, said in a statement: “The fact that Slovakia does not recognise the family status of same-sex couples at all is firstly disrespectful to its own citizens.
“The decision not to place the EMA seat in Slovakia shows that this issue is also a competitive disadvantage for our country.”
The EU also voted for the new location of the European Banking Authority (EBA) at the same time, which went to Paris.
The French capital tied with Dublin at the end of the third round of voting, with no decisive winner picked by EU states.
The Estonian chair of the meeting then drew lots to pick Paris as the winning bid.
Germany’s banking centre, Frankfurt, lost out early in the race, despite being an early favourite to win the bid.