And the French President also stoked his simmering row with Recep Tayyip Erdogan – by levelling similar accusations in the direction of Turkey. During an interview published today, it was suggested to Mr Macron that his government had taken an illiberal turn with a contested bill aimed at protecting police officers, coupled with a crackdown on Islamist groups.
The legislation, which would have curbed the freedom to share images identifying police officers is a key plank in the French President’s plans to court right-wing voters by appearing to be tougher on law and order.
Mr Macron told the Brut website: “Today, the situation is not satisfactory but, forgive me, that doesn’t make us an authoritarian state.”
“We’re not Hungary, Turkey or some-such.
“I can’t let it be said we’re reducing liberties in our country.”
He also said he had felt let down by Western governments and intellectuals after French teacher Samuel Paty was beheaded because he had shown cartoons of Prophet Muhammad in class.
Following Paty’s murder Mr Macron pledged to stand firm against assaults on French values and his government launched investigations into mosques suspected of fomenting Islamist ideology.
In the case of Mr Orban, his country is currently embroiled in a bitter dispute with the European Union over the bloc’s threat to withhold funds from its £677billion coronavirus recovery package if Hungary persists with controversial legal reforms Brussels claims compromises judicial independence.
Mr Macron and Mr Orban have had a testy relationship over the years – although the pair did exchange compliments when the latter visited France last year.
At that time, Mr Orban said Mr Macron was “highly respected” in his country.
In the case of Mr Erdogan, his comment was almost certainly in response to a scathing attack on him by the Turkish President today.
The 66-year-old has found himself on the opposite side of the argument to Mr Macron in a wide range of areas in recent months, from Turkey’s military operations in the Eastern Mediterranean to the ongoing conflict in the Nagorno-Karabkah region.
Speaking in Istanbul, he said: “Macron is a burden on France.
“Macron and France are going through a very dangerous period actually.
“My hope is that France gets rid of the Macron trouble as soon as possible.”
He also referenced remarks by Ilham Aliyev, the President of Azerbaijan in relation to Mr Macron’s support for Armenia in the Nagorno-Karabkah dispute.
He said: “Ilham Aliyev had some advice for the French. What did he say? ‘If they love Armenians so much, then they should give Marseilles to the Armenians’.
“I am making the same recommendation. If they love them so much, they should give Marseilles to the Armenians.”