Page last updated at 12:52 GMT, Wednesday, 25 March 2009

Czech PM attacks Obama spending


Czech prime minister says US plans are 'a way to hell'

The Czech prime minister has condemned US President Barack Obama's economic recovery plans as "a way to hell".

Mirek Topolanek was speaking in the European Parliament, in his capacity as current holder of the EU presidency.

Hours before his remarks, President Obama appealed for all countries to bear the burden of spending to stimulate the world economy.

Mr Topolanek said the biggest success of last week's EU summit was its refusal to copy the US example.

His intervention comes 10 days before the G20 summit meeting in London and coincides with a visit to New York by UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown, who has called for a "worldwide fiscal and monetary stimulus".

When the US president turns up for the EU summit in Prague, whose hand will he shake?
Europe editor Mark Mardell

Other European leaders, particularly French President Nicolas Sarkozy and German Chancellor Angela Merkel, want tougher financial regulation to be the priority of the G20.

Mr Topolanek, whose government collapsed last night in a Czech parliament vote of no-confidence, said the United States was not taking "the right path".

He attacked the US's growing budget deficit and the "Buy America" campaign, saying "all of these steps, these combinations and permanency is the way to hell".

"We need to read the history books and the lessons of history and the biggest success of the (EU) is the refusal to go this way," he said.

EU wary of deficits

BBC correspondent Jonny Dymond says his comments are not quite a full frontal assault on US economic strategy - but they come pretty close.

He says Mr Topolanek has again underlined that European leaders see no need for a further global economic stimulus to come out of the G20 summit.

Mr Topolanek has said he will step down as Czech prime minister, but the Czech Republic is set to complete its six-month EU presidency regardless.

At the end of their Brussels summit last week EU leaders insisted that the EU's existing stimulus measures - put at about 400bn euros ($543bn; £375bn) - had to be given time to kick in.

In the US, correspondents say, President Obama faces a tough fight to get support in Congress for his draft $3.6tn (£2.5tn) budget.

The package means an increased deficit, reckoned to be $1.4tn for next year. Mr Obama says his goal is to create jobs, revive the housing market and encourage a resumption of bank lending by providing more liquidity.

Print Sponsor

Has China's housing bubble burst?
How the world's oldest clove tree defied an empire
Why Royal Ballet principal Sergei Polunin quit


Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific