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Poland and France clash over Russia’s war on Ukraine

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WARSAW, Poland (AP) — Poland summoned the French ambassador on Friday over French President Emmanuel Macron’s reference to Poland’s prime minister as a “far-right anti-Semite” in a budding row over Russia’s war. against Ukraine.

It was not immediately clear exactly when Ambassador Frédéric Billet would arrive at the Polish Foreign Ministry. Polish officials blamed the harsh words on campaign fervor ahead of this weekend’s presidential election in France.

The bitter exchange between Macron and Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki appears as an unwelcome crack in the unity of the European Union forged amid outrage over Russia’s aggression against Ukraine.

In an interview published online by French newspaper Le Parisien on Thursday, Macron called Morawiecki “a far-right anti-Semite who bans LGBT people.” Macron, who is seeking a second term in Sunday’s vote, also claimed that Morawiecki tried to help far-right French presidential candidate Marine Le Pen.

Piotr Mueller, spokesman for Poland’s right-wing government, said it was a ‘lie’ to suggest Morawiecki had anything to do with anti-Semitism and blamed Macron’s remarks on campaign emotions stormy election.

Poles are particularly susceptible to accusations of anti-Semitism due to the Holocaust that Nazi Germany largely perpetrated in Poland. Most of Europe’s Jews lived in Poland before World War II, and millions perished in death camps or ghettos run by the German Nazi forces that occupied the country during the war.

Macron did not specify what he was referring to, but Morawiecki angered Israel and many Jews in 2018 when he said there were also “Jewish perpetrators” of the Holocaust. Morawiecki’s government also introduced a law that criminalizes the attribution of blame to Poles for Holocaust crimes committed by the Germans. Another law introduced by Morawiecki’s team effectively bars the restitution of private property that belonged to Holocaust victims and was later seized by the state.

The French leader’s remarks were in response to Morawiecki’s harsh criticism of his talks with Russian leader Vladimir Putin in a still futile effort to end Ukraine’s bloodshed. Morawiecki said on Monday that no discussions should take place with (war) criminals like Nazi Germany’s leader Adolf Hitler or Joseph Stalin of the Soviet Union.

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