Massive government spending and tighter regulation would prolong recession, Czech President Vaclav Klaus said on Monday, as he urged U.S. President Barack Obama not to endanger the free market economy in his response to the financial crisis.
In a speech at Columbia University in New York, Klaus, a former Czech prime minister who championed the free market after the fall of Communism 20 years ago, said he never expected to see such extensive government intervention again in his lifetime as he now sees around the world.
“I am therefore convinced that fighting for freedom and free markets, something we always appreciated here in this country (the United States), remains the task of the day,” Klaus said.
One of the world’s most vocal climate change skeptics, Klaus said he looked forward to working with Obama, who will attend an EU-U.S. summit in the Czech Republic in April on his first trip to Europe as U.S. president. The Czech Republic holds the EU presidency for the first half of 2009.
Klaus, whose position is largely ceremonial in the Czech political system, said he hoped Obama would show “an optimum mix of continuity and discontinuity” with the policies of his predecessor, George W. Bush.