France 'the sick man of Europe': Polish foreign minister

AFP, Monday 17 Dec 2018

France is "the sick man of Europe" and its problems are hurting the region, Poland's foreign minister said Monday, citing the "yellow vests" protest movement and last week's terrorist attack.

"France is the sick man of Europe, it is a drag on Europe while Poland is a bright spot," Jacek Czaputowicz told Polish television channel Polsat News.

"The terrorist attack proves that something is not right in France, the protests over the past weeks, President Macron's withdrawal of state reforms -- it's sad," he added.

French President Emmanuel Macron was forced last week to make concessions to the "yellow vests" movement after weeks of sometimes violent protests around the country.

A French extremist attacked the Christmas market in Strasbourg, eastern France last Tuesday, killing five people -- including a Polish national who died of his wounds on Sunday.

"If at the same time, you're lecturing Poland, there is something not right. First you have to bring some order to your own country" said Czaputowicz.

Czaputowicz's comments reflect longstanding tensions between the two countries since the rightwing populist Law and Justice (PiS) government took power in Poland in 2015.

Most recently, Macron has been critical of Poland's controversial reforms, which the European Union says pose a threat to the independence of the judiciary.

But even before Macron came to power in 2017, relations between the two countries soured after Poland called off a multi-billion euro deal with France's Airbus to buy 50 of its Caracal helicopters.

*This story was edited by Ahram Online

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