Europe: Obama's Upcoming Visit and Quotes

Global Voices Online
Saturday, March 7, 2009

U.S. president Barack Obama is planning to visit Great Britain, France, Germany and the Czech Republic next month, during his first trip to Europe since taking office.

In a post titled "They all want to meet him," P O Neill of A Fistful of Euros writes this about the upcoming visit:

An interesting wrinkle for those who care about summitry: Barack Obama’s visit to Europe in April will include Prague for what is being billed as the annual EU-USA summit.


Thus it’s going to be a big show, but presumably at the expense of getting much done with 28 heads of state/government and the Commission in attendance. It will get in a lot of “grip and grin” handshake photos for Barack Obama. Is this the format that the Obama team wanted to make worthwhile a visit to a “small” state?

Obama's words about Poland and the Czech Republic have caught attention of Taras of Ukrainiana:

[...] I also remember Obama referring to the Poles and the Czechs as “fledgling democracies.”

But this quote knocked me off my feet:

Russia needs to understand our unflagging commitment to the independence and security of countries like a Poland or a Czech Republic. On the other hand, we have areas of common concern.


Because I’m a smalltime Ukrainian who lives in a smalltime country that gave up the world's third-largest nuclear arsenal for chicken feed, I view Obama's remarks as a Bittergate. [...]

Obama's mention of Hungary has also ruffled some feathers. wrote:

OMG! OMG! Barack Obama mentioned Hungary - by name. If you don't believe the front page of, just go to this transcript of the O-mighty's news conference yesterday and keyword search for, well, duh. Yes, his first public reference to Hungary while in office didn't go exactly the way we might have planned (he basically said we're a bunch of psycho losers who need serious help before we hurt someone). Still, he's knows who we are!

And here's a more serious - as well as economy-focused - take on it by Eva Balogh of Hungarian Spectrum:

[...] Others also blame Barack Obama who after meeting with Gordon Brown, prime minister of the Great Britain, said the following: "One of the things that Prime Minister Brown and I talked about is how can we coordinate so that all the G20 countries, all the major countries around the world, in a coordinated fashion, are stimulating their economies; how can we make sure that there are a common set of principles, in terms of how we're approaching banking, so that problems that exist in emerging markets like Hungary or the Ukraine don't have these enormous ripple effects that wash back onto our shores, and we're providing them with some help in a coordinated international fashion, as well."

Well, that did it in Hungary. How does Obama dare to compare Hungary to Ukraine! No wonder that the forint started to fall even more rapidly after that speech. Moreover, it takes gall, these people say, to talk about problems that "will wash back to our shores." After all, where did this whole mess start? Not in Hungary. Hungary is the victim of irresponsibility in the American banking system. [...]

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