Macron calls Morawiecki extreme right anti-Semite

The leaders of France and Poland are locked in an ideological and personal quarrel

French President Emmanuel Macron dubbed Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki “an extreme-right anti-Semite who bans LGBT people.” While the EU has worked to present a united front against Moscow, Morawiecki has criticized Macron for keeping a dialogue open with Russian President Vladimir Putin amid Russia’s military operation in Ukraine, and has openly endorsed his right-wing rival, Marine Le Pen.

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In an interview with Le Parisien published on Friday, Macron hammered the Polish PM, calling him “an extreme-right anti-Semite who bans LGBT people.” Macron was likely referring to Morawiecki’s Law and Justice Party’s open criticism of “LGBT ideology,” which has seen Poland condemned and stripped of funding by the EU.

“He supports Marine Le Pen, whom he has received on several occasions,” Macron continued. “Let’s not be naive, he wants to help her before the election!”

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According to the French president, Morawiecki is an ally of Le Pen, and the pair have met on numerous occasions. Le Pen, of the right-wing National Rally party, faces off against Macron in the first round of France’s presidential elections this weekend. Macron’s victory was widely considered a done deal until recently, as a shock poll on Thursday put her a single percentage point ahead of the president in a hypothetical second-round matchup.

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Le Pen has likely been helped in the polls by rising fuel costs, for which voters have hammered Macron. The president too has found himself backed into a corner by his stance on Russia. On one hand, he has attempted to paint Le Pen as cozy with Putin; on the other, he has been forced to defend his own policy of holding frequent phone calls with the Russian leader over the conflict in Ukraine.

Morawiecki and Polish President Andrzej Duda have been some of his loudest critics for doing so. “Mr. President Macron, how many times have you negotiated with Putin, what have you achieved?,” Morawiecki said earlier this week. “One should not negotiate with criminals … Nobody negotiated with Hitler.”

“Dialogue with Russia has no sense,” Duda told CNN several days later. “One has to present very tough conditions to Vladimir Putin. One has to say, ‘Unless you meet these conditions, we don’t have anything to talk about’.”

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‘Always respect Russia,’ Macron urges

Macron has defended his conversations with Putin, stating that there could be “no lasting peace if Russia is not engaged in a great architecture of peace on our continent.” While Macron has condemned Russia’s offensive on Ukraine, he has insisted that Western leaders must “always respect Russia as a country and Russian people.”

Speaking to Le Parisien, he called Morawiecki’s invoking of the Nazis “shameless.”

The diplomatic fallout of the Macron and Morawiecki battle is ongoing. Poland’s foreign minister on Friday summoned the French ambassador to Warsaw to reprimand him over “statements made” by Macron to Le Parisien.

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While leaders in Brussels and Washington have touted a unity among the Western allies in confronting Russia, some cracks in the trans-Atlantic alliance have appeared. Hungary, for example, has stated that it will continue to buy Russian gas, and will pay for the commodity in rubles as Putin has demanded. Additionally, Poland has accused Germany – which is highly dependent on imported Russian gas – of standing in the way of tougher sanctions on Moscow.

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