PARIS — U.S. Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney praised Poland and criticized Russia as he wrapped up a controversial three-country tour aimed at strengthening his international credentials.
Speaking at Warsaw University, presumed Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney hailed Poland's transition from communism to democracy, holding up the eastern European country as a political and economic model.
"In the 1980s, when other nations doubted that political tyranny could ever be faced down or overcome, the answer was: 'Look to Poland'. And today, as some wonder about the way forward out of economic recession and fiscal crisis, the answer once again is: 'Look to Poland'," he said.
Romney's remarks came during the final leg of an international tour that also took him to Britain and Israel. During his visit to Poland, he laid a wreath at the tomb of the unknown soldier in Warsaw and met with Poland's foreign minister.
Romney also criticized the politics of Russia and Belarus and expressed alarm at the turmoil in other parts of the world.
"The Arab world is undergoing a historic upheaval, one that holds promise but also risk and uncertainty," he said. "Syria has killed thousands, its brutal dictator responsible for the lives of thousands of his own people. In Latin America, Hugo Chavez leads a movement characterized by authoritarianism and repression."
Romney's international tour has drawn mixed reviews. In Britain, the local press pounced on his apparent missteps. In Israel, his contrast of Israeli and Palestinian economic output drew an angry response by Palestinian officials.
By visiting Poland, Romney is paying his respects to a staunch U.S. ally. Observers also see his two-day stopover as a bid to win Catholic and Polish-American voters.