Warsaw denounces Macron for comparing Polish leader to Putin

Poland's Foreign Ministry said Tuesday that French presidential candidate Emmanuel Macron made an "unacceptable" comparison when he likened Poland's government to the "regimes" of Russia's Vladimir Putin and Hungary's Viktor Orban.

Macron made his remarks at a Paris rally on Monday while campaigning for the Sunday runoff election between himself and far-right nationalist candidate Marine Le Pen.

"You know the friends and allies of Mrs. Le Pen. These are the regimes of Orban, Kaczynski and Putin. They are not open and free democracies. Every day, freedoms and rules are violated there along with our principles," he said.

Jaroslaw Kaczynski is the chairman of Poland's ruling conservative Law and Justice party and the country's most powerful politician.

The ministry said it noted Macron's words with "regret" and that the centrist candidate used "unacceptable comparisons and mental shortcuts that lead to errors in public opinion." It also denied that Poland is an ally of Le Pen's.

"Let us stress that anyone who knows Poland's history and its internal political scene does not have the right to accuse the Polish people of warm feelings toward imperial Russia," the ministry said.

Both Poland and Hungary have been strongly criticized by the European Union and international human rights organizations for consolidating power in a way that has eroded the independence of the courts, the media, and other institutions. Hungary's Orban has stated openly that he is building an "illiberal democracy."

Macron said last week that if he becomes France's president, he would press the European Union to impose sanctions on Poland, alleging the Central European nation disregards fundamental EU values and uses fiscal differences to its favor. He made the remarks after visiting a French home appliances factory that is scheduled to move to Poland, where labor costs are cheaper.

Polish government officials also criticized those comments.