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Berlin (AFP) - European Parliament chief Martin Schulz on Monday compared the political situation in Poland to a "coup", drawing the anger of the Polish government which is locked in a battle against the country's top court.
"What is happening in Poland has the characteristics of a coup and is dramatic. I am going on the principle that we are going to discuss this in detail this week at the European parliament, or at the latest, during the session in January," he told Deutschlandfunk radio.
Schulz's comments sparked an angry response from Warsaw, with Polish Prime Minister Beata Szydlo demanding an apology.
"This type of comments -- and this is not the first time that president Schulz uses such a tone -- concerning Poland and Polish affairs, are unacceptable to me," Szydlo said.
"I am expecting Mr Martin Schulz to not only stop making such comments but also apologise to Poland," she added.
Polish Foreign Minister Witold Waszczykowski called Schulz's comments "unfounded, unjustified and scandalous".
Poland's conservatives have only been back in power for a few weeks but have swiftly replaced the heads of the country's secret services.
The eurosceptic party, which is led by former premier Jaroslaw Kaczynski, also has plans to overhaul state media and at the moment has the Constitutional Court in its crosshairs.
The political tensions centre around efforts by the ruling party to install five judges of its own choosing at the 15-member court, and refusing to recognise judges who were appointed by the previous parliament when the liberal Civic Platform (PO) party was in power.