Press Conferences

18. 1. 2007 11:34

Press briefing after the session of the National Security Council, on Thursday 18th January 2007

Martin Schmarcz, head of the press unit: Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen, welcome to a short press briefing after session of the National Security Council and as an introduction, I give the floor to the Deputy Prime Minister Alexandr Vondra, who will inform you briefly on the debate, on some important matters.

Alexandr Vondra, Deputy Prime Minister: Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen, I will perhaps disappoint you a little as my information will not be so detailed and concrete. The National Security Council has dealt, as you perhaps know from the programme, with several issues. As a matter of fact, most of these materials, especially those submitted by the Minister of Defence, like the Plan of Drill of Crisis Management Organs for further three years, time schedule of defence planning, were of a routine character, in fact, and I do not think there is anything special to tell you. One of those materials was on the development of human resources from the point of view of securing defence of the Czech Republic. To say it comprehensibly, to what extent the demographic curve will or will not influence on this. We can state here rather optimistically that in spite of the fact that demographic trends are not very favourable for the entire CR, they have no negative influence on the defensibility of the CR. Perhaps the longest internal discussion was on the material, which concerned the issue of ensuring energy security of the CR. The debate was of a closed character, in other words I cannot give the material at your disposal; nevertheless I would say two things regarding it. First, there is a consensus among members of the BRS (National Security Council) that there will have to be more attention of the government and the BRS paid to the issue of energy security, and I highlight the word security, than it had been paid in the past. Examples from last two years, both recent problems with oil supplies by the pipeline Družba and problem with oil supplies across Ukraine one year ago, indicate vulnerability not only of the CR, but vulnerability of Europe as a whole. Therefore there is a requirement for the security character of energy industry, requirement for diversification both from the geographical point of view and from the point of view of sectors. It is something that no government can treat lightly. We also stated with satisfaction that also the EU itself started to pay greater attention to this issue. As you perhaps know, a new European Energy Strategic Review has been published under management of the Commissioner for Energy Piebalgs on 10th January, last week. It is a document that deserves our attention and which is, according to our opinion, a step forward in comparison with previous materials of the EU, which were of more conceptual character, as it more concerns issues of diversification and security. We also agreed that the next session of the BRS will be held after appointment of the new government, as the material had been prepared by former government. In other words, the composition of the working group, which will be working on the issue of energy security and which will, after several months, submit updated version of the material, will be enlarged with respect to the coalition character of the government. There was a debate with the Minister of Environment, who became a new member of the BRS. But there is an agreement on the fact that security issue is very important. In the framework of the BRS session the Minister Říman also informed in detail on negotiations, which had been held by him and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on solution of similar situations like those that had happened last week. We can state with satisfaction that we as the CR, thanks to the existence of the Ingolstadt pipeline, the pipeline IKL from Ingolstadt, we are able to solve critical situations the moment when oil supplies from the East through the Družba pipeline are interrupted. Both, negotiations with MERO and with owners of transalpine pipeline, or French pipelines, in other words pipelines that are able to supply just through Ingolstadt, the IKL pipeline, show that we are able to solve interruption of oil supplies, so these principal interests of the state would not be jeopardized. That was brief résumé of today's session and I do not know what to add regarding this. Thank you.

Martin Schmarcz, head of the press unit: Now, there is time for about three questions.

Jan Čtvrtečka, TV Nova: I would like to know, Deputy Prime Minister, what you say to the fact that the CR, as the first new member state was accused today at the European Court of nonobservance of European laws, European norms.

Alexandr Vondra, Deputy Prime Minister: As chance would have it, I was speaking, not in the framework of that session, with the Minister of Health. The Minister of Health informed me that he would draw necessary conclusions in the framework of his ministry and it is up to him to inform you. I would just like to emphasize that the verdict does not concern wrong performance of the CR. In principle, in real situation the labour market in the sphere of healthcare is more open than the German market, which is not "chided". The verdict is aimed at the legislation, which had not been fully implemented.

Jan Čtvrtečka, TV Nova: It has been lasting since 2004, when the amendment of the law was to be passed and which was to change the situation regarding registration of doctors from the EU in our medical chambers. Do not you think it is shame?

Alexandr Vondra, Deputy Prime Minister: Well, undoubtedly it is an example of the work of former government. As to the autumn government, Minister Julínek included this issue in the legislative process and we believe that rectification could be done within several months, let us say. I think that the CR can avoid certain concrete consequences, but it is necessary to ask what former government was doing, what former Minister of Health was doing in those years 2004-2006, in which the delay had occurred.

Jan Čtvrtečka, TV Nova: Thank you and I have one more question, if I may. I would like to know why you want to bind your deputies by a promise to support the government on Friday.

Martin Schmarcz, head of the press unit: I would like you to ask questions which concern the National Security Council. As to this question, address the prime Minister.

Alexandr Vondra, Deputy Prime Minister: I would answer the question in the same way, anyway, please address the Prime Minister regarding this question, not me.

Naďa Bělovská, Radiožurnál: I would revert to those negotiations. There was allegedly a debate on possible use of the pipeline that leads from Trieste to Karlsruhe as the third pipeline. Is it true?

Alexandr Vondra, Deputy Prime Minister: It is that transalpine pipeline; I have mentioned it, which just from Karlsruhe is connected to Ingolstadt. Yes, there were negotiations in which participated the company of MERO and the Ministry of Industry and Trade. The result of those negotiations was that we would be able, in case of emergency to supply the CR sufficiently. There will be further negotiations held, which would project this knowledge into a more concrete obligation. ,

Martin Schmarcz, head of the press unit: The last question, please, Česká televize.

David Borek, ČT: I would continue in the Ingolstadt issue. You informed about the fact that Ingolstadt is able to cover oil requirements of the CR. Nevertheless, Minister Říman is to ensure the 100% coverage of oil consumption in the CR in case of interruption of oil supplies from eastern pipelines. Is there a time schedule, when the Ingolstadt pipeline could take over the emergency function for the CR?

Alexandr Vondra, Deputy Prime Minister: Yes, we are working on it. It is not, of course, necessary to have everything ready in a few days; but really, in case of full use of the Ingolstadt capacity, it is possible to cover most of our needs. If certain additional investments result from it, they will not be extravagant, as today's debate has shown.

David Borek, ČT: How much, approximately?

Alexandr Vondra, Deputy Prime Minister: Hundreds of millions.

Martin Schmarcz, head of the press unit: Ladies and gentlemen, thank you and good-bye.

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