A meeting of the leaders of the crisis-hit countries of Central and Eastern Europe set for March 1 is not a sign of panic or a split within the European Union, diplomats from the countries involved said Friday, dpa reported.
EU leaders are set to hold an emergency summit on the economic crisis on that date, and the leaders of Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, the Baltic states, Bulgaria and Romania are due to hold a meeting of their own just before it.
The mini-meeting was confirmed days after rating agency Moody's warned that banking instability across the region could have serious knock-on effects around the world.
But Czech and Polish officials insisted that the meeting was a regular part of the preparation for EU summits, and did not signal a growing panic over the economic crisis.
"The whole EU summit is a crisis meeting. You can't have one crisis meeting inside another one," a Czech diplomat who asked to remain anonymous told Deutsche Presse-Agentur dpa.
The meeting was called by Poland, which currently chairs the informal "Vysegrad Four" group (Poland, the Czech Republic, Hungary and Slovakia).
The quartet had been set to meet in Warsaw at the end of February, but decided instead to meet with their Eastern European colleagues once the March 1 summit was confirmed, Polish sources said.
The national leaders are also set to meet European Commission chief Jose Manuel Barroso, commission spokesman Amadeu Altafaj confirmed.