Warsaw, Poland – Former U.S. President Barack Obama has argued that Poland and Hungary are now “essentially authoritarian”, sparking the anger of officials in Warsaw.
In a recent CNN interview, Obama warned about democratic backsliding and the rise of authoritarianism, including in the US, saying that “all of us citizens have to recognise that the path towards an undemocratic America is not going to happen in just one bank. It happens in a series of steps.”
“When you look at what’s happened in places like Hungary and in Poland, that obviously did not have the same democratic traditions as we did, they weren’t as deeply rooted, and yet as recently as ten years ago were functioning democracies, and now essentially have become authoritarian,” Obama added.
In response, Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki invited the former US President to visit the country and look closely “at how beautifully Poland is developing today.” “It’s enough to come here instead of reading some reports which I think seriously distort the image of Poland,” Morawiecki continued.
Deputy Foreign Minister Szymon Szynkowski vel Sęk for his part accused Obama of ignorance, claiming that “a lack of knowledge often leads to wrong conclusions and in this case it’s not the first time.”
Tomasz Siemoniak, a member of Poland’s largest opposition party PO, on the contrary insisted the ex-US President’s comments were a “serious warning against the weakening of the alliance between Poland and the USA.”
In October last year, then-presidential candidate and Obama’s former Vice-President Joe Biden had compared Poland and Hungary to “totalitarian regimes” such as Belarus, also drawing the ire of the Polish and Hungarian governments.