During a presidential election debate on April 20 incumbent Emmanuel Macron lashed out at his rival for the country’s presidency, Marine Le Pen, criticizing her for her links to Russian dictator Vladimir Putin.
The debate was part of the final stages of campaigning ahead of the second round of the presidential election on Sunday, April 24.
The main topics of the three-hour televised debate were building cooperation with Russia, and attitudes to Islam and migration, German broadcaster DW reported.
During the debate, Macron focused on the reputation and controversial past of Le Pen, the leader of the far-right National Assembly party, while she, in turn, criticized his performance in office.
"You depend on the Russian government, you depend on Putin… When you talk to Russia, you talk to your banker," Macron told his rival.
Later, Macron asked Le Pen on what grounds she had for saying Crimea was part of Russia.
"Why did you do that? Under international law, we rarely recognize territories that have been annexed by force," the French president said.
In response, Le Pen said she considered herself a "completely free and independent woman."
The debate culminated in Le Pen saying that if she won, she would implement a controversial policy of banning the wearing of the Muslim headscarf in public, calling headscarves "Islamist-imposed uniforms."
In response, Macron retorted: "You are going to cause a civil war. I say this sincerely."
Le Pen shot back by calling Macron "the Mozart of finance," saying that he left the country a "bad" economic legacy in the form of public debt to the tune of EUR 600 billion.
Macron is the favorite to win in the second round, most polls say his lead exceeds 10%.
The second round of presidential elections in France will take place on April 24.