WARSAW, Poland - Of all the twists in Europe's debt crisis, one of the oddest must be this: Poles, Czechs, and other Eastern Europeans, long the recipients of massive amounts of Western aid, are being asked to contribute to an emergency fund for indebted Western European states.
That plan, decided at Friday's European Union summit, is sparking resistance - and some outrage - from Eastern Europeans who see a huge injustice in being asked to sacrifice for countries that still enjoy much greater wealth, even with mountains of state debt.
Czech and Slovak leaders have spoken out against the plan - sentiment also being voiced in more emotional language by people across the region.
"This must be some kind of bad joke," said Jonas Vaicys, a math teacher in Lithuania, a former Soviet state still recovering from a huge hit during the financial crisis of 2008-09. "Lithuania itself is on the verge of asking for international help, not donating money to some fund."
The plan is one of several measures that EU leaders agreed to as they struggle to pull Europe out of its debt crisis. It involves EU members providing up to 200 billion euros in loans to the International Monetary Fund so it can bail out indebted states. The bulk would come from eurozone members, but even those who don't use the shared currency are being asked for help.
Hungary and Romania won't contribute because they are still paying the IMF back for past bailouts. And Bulgaria - the EU's poorest member - says it has nothing to offer.
"Bulgaria did not cause the crisis in the eurozone, nor will it be the one to take the zone out of the crisis," Foreign Minister Nikolai Mladenov said during a lively debate in parliament Wednesday.
But several other former communist countries now face an obligation to make reserves from their central banks available to the IMF as loans.
Despite years of economic progress, the standard of living across central and Eastern Europe still lags far behind the West, and many are loath to go along with the IMF plan.
Poland, for instance, has a debt load much lower than that of Greece and Italy - but this is because the state doesn't provide the generous welfare benefits to its people that many take for granted in the West.