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26 Mar, 2009 07:56

Resigned Czech PM lashes at Obama’s “hellish” plan

The Czech Prime Minister Mirek Topolanek has lashed out at the U.S. stimulus package, calling it the “way to hell”. However, some say that this may simply be a bad translation.

He was forced out of office, but Prime Minister Topolanek is likely to complete the Czech presidency of the EU. And he’s using it to the fullest. At the EU parliament, Topolanek attacked Obama’s recovery plan for taking a “wrong way”.

“The US stimulus package, all these economic measures, is a way to hell,” Topolanek said.

According to the ITAR TASS news agency, the Prime Minister stated, “The United States has chosen the wrong path and may happen to make the same mistakes they did during the last century’s 30s.”

He said that “the American administration would require enormous financial resources to support their anti-crisis measures,” adding that he believed “they are going to earn this money by selling weapons.”

His comments reflect friction between the U.S. and the EU over the options to resolve the financial crisis: stimulus vs. regulation.

Still many see it as a sharp contrast to Topolanek’s pro-American stance during the Bush administration.

“Obviously he does not like the new president of the U.S., Barack Obama. He obviously prefers the old administration,” remarks Russian political analyst Dmitry Babich.

That will hardly matter. At best, Topolanek is likely to become a caretaker Prime Minister until June.

That fact might steal some of the shine from his meeting with Obama for the G20 talks in London and the EU-US summit in Prague next month.

The head of Russia’s State Duma foreign affairs committee, Konstantin Kosachev, says “I do not predict any big problems or clashes in the Czech Republich domestic policies as long as the Czech Republic presides in the EU. It will be a mess, but without any practical consequence for the EU, for the relations between the EU and the U.S., or the EU and Russia.”

The new administration in Washington, as well as the Czech political infighting, might affect the plans to station a part of the U.S. missile shield in Europe.

And anti-AMD activists are set for a new fight against the shield.

About 80% of the Czech population was initially against the plan, and it also lacked support in parliament. Some experts say Topolanek's defiance is behind his resignation.

“It’s a part of the story, but not a decisive factor. The outcome of the vote of the [Czech] parliament was determined by four ex-members of the ruling coalition, and the reason they left the ruling coalition, I believe, are the internal economic problems of the Czech Republic,” concludes Kosachev.

The fear is that the financial crisis will create a domino effect across the whole of Eastern Europe.

This collapse of the government in the Czech Republic followed the resignation of the prime minister of Hungary and Latvia.

Prague is half-way through the EU presidency. The Czech crisis challenges the EU on the eve of the G20 summit in London, and with Eastern European governments tumbling under the pressure of the financial turmoil, the political instability within the Czech Republic couldn’t have come at a worse time.

Lost in translation?

The inflammatory statement by the Czech leader caused a sensation. However, the Czech Deputy Prime Minister responsible for European Affairs, Aleksandr Vondra, claimed that he had been misunderstood.

A Czech government spokesman later said that the Prime Minister had meant that the European Union would be on the road to hell if it boosted its own spending too much. Czech speakers who heard the speech were adamant that there was no mistake and he used the words as translated.

The Prime Minister made a further statement that “Americans will need liquidity to finance all their measures and they will balance this with the sale of their bonds, but this will undermine the liquidity of the global financial markets.”

This was corrected in a flash on the television screens in the press room, claiming that what he really said was “the United States will need liquidity to finance its social stimuli- they will get it easily, because there is always someone who will buy American bonds.

However, this optimistic new version was greeted with considerable scepticism.

RT and Robert Harneis