Press Conferences

14. 5. 2007 9:57

Press briefing of the Czech Prime Minister Mirek Topolánek after talks with the Prime Minister of the Italian Republic Romano Prodi in Kramář Villa

Martin Schmarcz, Head of the Press Department of the Office of the Government: Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the press briefing after talks of delegations of the Italian Republic and the Czech Republic. I welcome here the Prime Minister of the Italian Republic Mr. Romano Prodi and I also welcome here the Prime Minister of the Czech Republic, Mirek Topolánek. The Prime Minister of the Czech Republic has the floor as the first one.

Mirek Topolánek, Prime Minister of the Czech Republic: I think I will give the floor to Romano Prodi.

Romano Prodi, Prime Minister of the Italian Republic: We held a long and very cordial discussion. First, we were talking about bilateral relations and then about European issues. As to bilateral relations, we can summarize that there are no problem in this sphere. Both trade and investments relations are satisfying and increasing and there are no problems here. Apart from Germany, Italia is a country with which the Czech Republic has the most developed economic relations. We want to continue in this way. However, we have different visions regarding European issues, in particular regarding those, which concern the future of Europe. I emphasized that starting point for the common Europe must be the Treaty, which have been ratified by 18 countries out of 27. I think it is right and convenient to take into consideration interests of those countries, which have not ratified the Treaty, but that it is also appropriate and at present it is right to take into consideration attitude of those 18 countries, which have ratified the Treaty in a legal way. As to the future, I expressed my opinion that the Berlin declaration of March of this year has finished the period of reflection and now we will continue in our way to further unification of Europe. Europe must prove that it will be able to function. In case we do not achieve common policies, we will not persist in a globalized world. We are paralyzed in the existing state of the institutional structure and Europe with its 27 members will not be able to function unless it launches reforms. To mention one concrete example, the Czech Republic and Italy will not succeed in common accession of further countries to the EU, in particular countries of the Balkan. I am of the opinion that the session of the Council in June will be absolutely essential just because of different views of ours. All countries will have to prove that they are willing to cooperate in order to insure common future for Europe. I think that we must give absolutely clear and well-defined mandate to the intergovernmental conference and this mandate must be defined by the end of 2007. Definition of the mandate must be based on the Treaty, which was signed in 2004. We have nothing against certain terminological changes of this Treaty provided that the core itself remains in it and that also their main parts are respected. On the other hand, we are absolutely against different title of the European Minister of Foreign Affairs, as it is a functional matter. We think that the Treaty must preserve single legal subjectivity, it must overcome the structure of pillars and it must confirm primacy of European law over national law. Furthermore, I think that it is necessary to weaken the principle of unanimous vote, because in case of maintenance of this principle Europe will not be able to take decisions and make progress. It is the Italian attitude. We are willing to make compromises, but we will not accept all compromises. We are of the opinion that bases of the Treaty, as they were signed in 2004, are very significant. Thank you for your attention.

Martin Schmarcz, Head of the Press Department of the Office of the Government: Now the Prime Minister of the Czech Republic has the floor.

Mirek Topolánek, Prime Minister of the Czech Republic: Thank you. As Romano Prodi has already said, there are no significant problems in our bilateral relations. We have welcome abolition of the moratorium by the Italian government concerning free movement of workers last year, we welcome the attitude of the Italian government to the enlargement of the Schengen area and there are no different attitudes here, perhaps with the exception of different position to the United Nations Security Council. Those talks were very friendly and meant a continuation of discussions with the European statesmen, which I had started after the appointment to my function. After having the opportunity to hold talks with Mr. Kaczyński, Gyurcsány, Fico, with Mrs. Merkel, Mr. Rasmunsen, Reinfeldt and others, I will have talks with outgoing Tony Blair, with Mr. Balkenend and further European politicians, as all of us feel great responsibility for future functioning of the EU; therefore I welcome each opportunity to communicate, each discussion concerning this issue. First, I would mention issues regarding which we agree, because there are not few of them. I think that perhaps it is not different attitude to the future of the EU, but rather different opinions concerning tools and means leading to the achievement of that vision. We will certainly agree on the fact that the EU must preserve values it had been based on, that it must to act as a peace-maker and to fight against terrorism in the world, that it must be competitive in the global economic struggle. We agree on all that. We share our opinions concerning the procedure of establishing the institutional arrangement of the EU. We also think that the intergovernmental conference could reach an agreement and then we could leave states to ratify the new Treaty in the course of the following one year and a half, according to their experience, so that the process would be finished before the beginning of 2009. We do not agree on the assessment of the entire existing process. After the unambiguous statements of both the new President Sarkózy and the Prime Minister Balkenend, when neither the Netherlands nor France is willing to repeat the ratification process of the Constitutional Treaty, we deem the process to be finished. From the point of view of sovereignty of the individual states of the EU in relation to the primary law and to the primary Treaty, it is evident that ratification of the Treaty by 18 states is regrettable, but further discussion on this document is useless. We agree on the fact that it is possible for several spheres to be based on this Treaty; this is a very positive matter and it is also the compromise position of the Czech Republic. We suppose that it is possible to make such changes regarding establishment of the individual institutions o the EU, which will enable to bridge certain empty period, which will enable further enlargement of the EU and which will enable discussion on the future existence of the flexible EU. As far as the individual details or technical provisions of the future arrangement, the Czech journalist will undoubtedly find it in the government's position paper. For the foreign ones I must say that we refuse certain quasi-symbols that were stipulated in the Constitutional Treaty and which exceeded agreements of Leaken and they also exceeded the system of the Treaty itself. It posed more or less as a Constitution. We certainly do not like worsening of the position of the Czech Republic from the point of view of majority voting in comparison with the Treaty of Nice; this is our reservation. On the contrary, we propose so called two-way flexibility; it mans not only a handing-over of competences to the EU level, but also a return of certain competences down to national levels, or even regional levels in such cases where it had been shown, in the framework of the subsidiarity principle, that it would be better. In case of part number two we prefer, and it is also the government's position, legally obligatory reference to the Convention for Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, which would hamper ambiguity in legal exercising the Convention. I would like to say that the discussion is just starting and we will arrive at the European Council, which will be held in couple of days in Germany, well prepared and that we will be able to consult, discuss these relatively different attitudes and to find starting points. I thank Romano Prodi very much for his openness, with which he presented attitudes of the Italian government and his attitudes and I think that it is the only one way, after abolition of certain principles of a strange political correctness, how to uncover the fog hiding the Constitutional Treaty and how to reach a compromise, which would be purposeful not only for states, but also for citizens of those states.

Martin Schmarcz, Head of the Press Department of the Office of the Government: Ladies and gentlemen, in spite of the fact that the time is nearly over, let us reserve time for two questions, at least; one from the Italian side, and one from the Czech one. Wait for the microphone, please.

Marco Monti, Messaggero daily: I have a question to the Prime Minister Prodi. Has also the question of the anti-missile shield in the Czech Republic been mentioned? And further question, if you had a contact with Kadaffi, as we know that you had a contact with him and that he was not in good health condition.

Romano Prodi, Prime Minister of the Italian Republic: We did not discuss the issue of the anti-missile shield, this is an issue that did not concern today's negotiation; I will answer the question that concerned Kadaffi. I would like to say that we had a telephone discussion with him yesterday, from about 11,30 to 12 o'clock. I asked what the situation with the Kadaffi foundation and the EU was like, we were talking about the issue of Bulgarian nurses, what the situation was, what the contacts with their families were like, what the prospects were like. We were also talking about the conference on the sub-Saharan Africa, which was to be taken place at the end on the month, about relations of the EU and Africa. We were talking about bilateral relations between Italia and Libya. When I was talking to him he was just in the desert and said that it was fine whether there. He phoned me this morning again through his secretary and then I was talking to him unofficially. I asked about his health and he said he was well and that sometimes newspapers provide incorrect information on politicians´ health; he added that he did not know why it had been released. I replied that we, in Italy, have a saying that such a politician would live for a long time. So, I do not know what the problem was. I would like to apologize and I thank you Prime Minister that you allowed that short digression, which slowed down our press conference.

Martin Schmarcz, Head of the Press Department of the Office of the Government: The TV Prima, please.

Martin Erva, TV Prima: I have two questions to the Prime Minister. One of them concerns more or less internal issues, but it concerns also today's talks; do you intend to solve disputes over transfers of subsidiarity within the EU, which he mentioned at this press conference, with the Greens? The Greens do not like the transfer back to national states, if I understood well. Are you going to negotiate with them, because Ondřej Liška said that he would require a negotiation at the K9 (meeting of nine coalition representatives) level on this issue? And then, do you think that the attitude in favour of a mini-constitution will prevail at the summit in Germany in June and that the constitution will be adopted in such form as you propose?

Mirek Topolánek, Prime Minister of the Czech Republic: I returned from Georgia on Saturday night and that is why I have not spoken to Ondřej Liška yet and I leave the discussion for this week. I do not suppose it is necessary to summon the K9 meeting. I think it is misunderstanding, because it is mentioned clearly in the government's position paper, in preparation of which also Ondřej Liška participated, that space of shared competences is not a one-way space. There should be transfer of competences insured not only from national states to the EU, in case such competences are more effective at the EU level. I think it is connected with something else and I am waiting for our discussion to make this misunderstanding clear. As to the second question, I do not know if we are promoters of a mini-treaty; we say that the Constitutional Treaty could be a basis. We do not talk, for the present, about incorporation of certain provisions of the Constitutional Treaty into the Treaty of Nice and making a mini-change. I do not exclude it but I would regard it as a failure of those negotiations at the European Council, as ambitions are higher and we do not have any strong national attitude to it. I regard this variant as an emergency one, which should insure functioning of the EU and to bridge the period that I have mentioned; nevertheless, we do not prefer it.

Martin Schmarcz, Head of the Press Department of the Office of the Government: I thank both gentlemen, and I thank you, ladies and gentlemen.

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