EurActiv.com Correspondent's Choice

The following story was published on Tuesday 3rd March.

At an EU informal summit on Sunday (1 March), leaders from Central and Eastern European countries strongly criticised Western media for depicting their countries as “black holes” and major threats to economic stability.

“Eastern European countries need to repay short-term debts of more than $400 billion this year, and some don’t have the resources to meet their payments,” wrote the Washington Post.

“For the first time in decades, it’s not just European banks but entire countries that investors worry could be insolvent,” was Newsweek’s pessimistic message.

According to the Economist, it is the West which will have to foot the bill. The weekly warned: “Collapse in the East would quickly raise questions about the future of the EU itself.”

Over the past week, leading Western newspapers have published articles and editorials painting a dark picture of the crisis in Eastern Europe.

Czech Prime Minister Mirek Topolánek, who currently holds the rotating EU presidency, said reports of impending economic catastrophe in Eastern Europe are part of a “virtual debate” created by the media, which in his words bears no relation to reality.

Topolánek shrugged off reports of Eastern Europe’s increasingly dire economic situation, speaking of “considerable progress” that has been made and “very good” prospects for continued sustainable growth.

He added that the way the financial crisis has affected individual EU member states is the result of their policies, rather than their location in the east or west of the continent.

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