(Bloomberg) -- French President Emmanuel Macron said Russian leader Vladimir Putin’s vision for the future is to dismantle Europe, and that the giant eastern neighbor doesn’t share the same human rights values as the Old Continent.
“I do respect Vladimir Putin and I am one of the leaders who says we need to construct a new security and defense architecture with Russia. We need this discussion with Russia,” Macron told Sweden’s SVT Television in an interview broadcast on Sunday. “But Putin’s dream is the dismantling of the European Union.”
The 40-year-old French leader also condemned an earlier statement by Sweden’s nationalist figure and chief of the Sweden Democrats, Jimmie Akesson. In a radio interview, Akesson declined to chose between Putin or Macron. The French president said “this person is not compliant with your story and your value,” citing Sweden’s history.
READ MORE: A Guide to What Could Be the Most Uncertain Swedish Election Yet
The general election on Sept. 9 could rewrite Sweden’s political rule book with the rise of the Sweden Democrats, a nationalist party with roots in the country’s white supremacy movement. Despite having been ostracized by the mainstream parties, the group’s message of stopping immigration has resonated with voters after a record inflow of foreigners over the past few years.
“I think it’s for your voters and your people to react to that. I think it tells a lot,” Macron said. Akesson’s stance showed that the Swede “doesn’t know the right ranking of values and interests,” he said.
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