Polish official scorns Obama's 'authoritarianism' remark
A Polish deputy minister has accused former US President Barack Obama of a lack of knowledge after he said Poland and Hungary are countries where democracy has turned into authoritarianism.
Szymon Szynkowski vel Sęk attacked the former president over comments he made during an interview with the US television network CNN.
"All of us as citizens have to recognize that the path towards an undemocratic America is not going to happen in just one bang. It happens in a series of steps," said Obama.
"And when you look what's happened in places like Hungary and Poland, that obviously did not have the same democratic traditions as we did, they weren't as deeply rooted, and yet as recently as 10 years ago were functioning democracies, now essentially have become authoritarian," he added.
Responding, Szynkowski vel Sęk, a Polish deputy foreign minister, said: "If one can favour US democratic traditions over centuries-old traditions of Polish democracy, then they can also claim that we have a dictatorship in Poland.
"A lack of knowledge often leads to wrong conclusions and in this case it's not the first time, as we all know," the deputy minister added.
Szynkowski vel Sęk was probably referring to an incident in 2012, during the Obama presidency. When honouring Jan Karski, a Polish war hero who helped bring news of the Holocaust to the world, Obama used the phrase "Polish death camp" while describing Karski's daring escape from a Nazi German camp located in Poland.
The White House later said Obama "misspoke" and expressed "regret."
Reacting to Obama’s description of modern Poland, Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki said he would invite the former American president to visit Poland.
"It's enough to come here instead of reading some reports which I think seriously distort the image of Poland," Morawiecki said.
He went on to say that everyone who "takes a closer look at Poland will see a country which has opened its economy to the whole of society and departed from a neo-liberal model."