Klaus remarks spark EU walkout

Feb. 19, 2009 at 3:06 PM
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BRUSSELS, Feb. 19 (UPI) -- Czech Republic President Vaclav Klaus angered members of the European parliament Thursday, prompting a walkout.

Klaus, in his first address to the body as EU president, said the institution had a "democratic deficit" and likened its operations to those of an eastern European country under communism. He said the European parliament had alienated voters and urged it to give up its decision-making powers to member states, the Financial Times reported.

Graham Watson, head of the Alliance of Liberal Democrats, called Klaus's remarks "astonishing," while Labor Party representative Richard Corbett called them "disappointing and frankly embarrassing." Milan Horacek of the Green party called them "facile and boorish."

Klaus, for his part, appeared to enjoy the ruckus.

"I think for a speaker the worst outcome would be a total silence or a lack of reaction," he said.

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