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EU Presidency blasts US economic recovery plans

Article published on the 2009-03-26 Latest update 2009-03-26 12:54 TU

Czech Prime Minister Mirek Topolanek at the European Parliament 25 March 2009.(Photo: Vincent Kessler/Reuters)

Czech Prime Minister Mirek Topolanek at the European Parliament 25 March 2009.
(Photo: Vincent Kessler/Reuters)

The European Union's Czech presidency on Wednesday slammed the United States' plan to spend hundreds of billions of dollars to revive the lagging US economy as a "way to hell".

Outgoing Czech Prime Minister Mirek Topolanek criticised the US government's stimulus plans at the European Parliament in Strasbourg, France.

"The United States is not on the right path" with its plans to jump-start the world's biggest economy, he told lawmakers. "All of these steps, their combination and their permanency is a way to hell. We need to read the history books."

The Czech presidency has since tried to downplay the remark to avoid a diplomatic crisis.

Czech Vice Prime Minister Alexandr Vondra went as far to deny that Topolanek even made the comment. But journalists who reported the remark are standing by their story.

"From what I can tell, the speaker has some domestic political problems that might speak more to what he was talking about," said White House spokesperson Robert Gibbs in Washington.

Topolanek is seen as economically conservative and has long opposed state intervention. But he is due to submit his resignation to President Vaclav Klaus later this week after his government was defeated in a no-confidence vote on Tuesday.

Topolanek's criticism casts doubt on the G20 summit in London on 2 April, where leaders from the world's largest economies will try to solve the global crisis.

The White House said that US President Barack Obama would go ahead with a visit to Prague, 4-5 April, despite the change in government.