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President of Czech Republic visits state, compares EU, D.C.

By Phillip Rawls
Associated Press Writer

MONTGOMERY — Czech Republic President Vaclav Klaus told Alabama legislators Thursday that he has something in common with them: The way they feel about getting strong directives from Washington is the same way he feels about getting directives from the European Union.

Klaus said his democratic country must be part of the European Union, but he's concerned about a move toward "global government."

"In the European Union nowadays, 75 percent of the pieces of legislation come from Brussels these days, and only 25 percent are homemade, that is produced in individual member countries of the EU. As far as I understand it, the same story is very relevant in your country between what goes from Washington, D.C., and what goes from this place," Klaus told the Alabama House and Senate.

Klaus heads a country that operated under communism until the Velvet Revolution in 1989. Now, its president is a follower of the late Milton Friedman, the American economist whose free-market ideas inspired Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher.

Klaus said his country's experience with communism makes it more sensitive to directives from the European Union.

"I am very frustrated when I see the dangerous tendency of the current world to legislate everything," Klaus said. But he acknowledged that with those views, "I'm not on the winning side — at least in Europe these days."

Gov. Bob Riley, who accompanied Klaus, praised his observations.

"The remarks you made are very indicative of what is going on not only in your country, but in ours," Riley said.

Copyright 2005 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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