BRUSSELS — Transatlantic tension over the handling of the global economic crisis intensified Wednesday when the prime minister of the Czech Republic, which holds the European Union presidency, described the President Obama’s stimulus measures as the “way to hell.”
Addressing the European Parliament in Strasbourg, France, Prime Minister Mirek Topolanek argued that the Obama administration’s fiscal package and financial bailout “will undermine the stability of the global financial market.”
Mr. Topolanek’s comments, only a day after he offered his government’s resignation following a no confidence vote, took European officials by surprise.
The rotating European Union presidency lasts for six months and the country that holds it is supposed to speak on behalf of the entire 27-nation bloc.
The statement came just a week before a meeting in London of the Group of 20 which will bring together the leaders of the 19 leading industrial and developing nations and the European Union to forge an international consensus on the economic crisis. His comments also underlined potential ideological strains between Washington and Europe as Mr. Obama prepares to travel to Prague in less than two weeks for a summit meeting intended to bolster trans-Atlantic relations and show that the United States and Europe are united over economic policy.
Only five days ago, European Union leaders had reached a carefully constructed political truce designed to bury their differences and agree on a common policy ahead of the London meeting. At last Friday’s European Union summit meeting, they pledged an additional 75 billion euros to finance loans by the International Monetary Fund and to double a credit line for its struggling Eastern European economies.