Press Conferences

10. 9. 2007 11:24

Press briefing of the Prime Minister of the Czech Republic on topical problems held on 10th September, 2007

Martin Schmarcz, Head of the press unit of the Office of the Government: Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the regular press briefing of the Prime Minister, Mirek Topolánek. In the introduction, the prime Minister will inform you on his opinions concerning topical issues of the past week and he will present some other topics. Then there will be time for your questions. You have the floor, Prime Minister.

Prime Minister of the Czech Republic, Mirek Topolánek: Good afternoon. When I was trying to set a new system of communication, I decided to hold these briefings. There will be the same procedure, as I described last time. In the first part I would like to describe matters which are worth commenting either thanks to your unprofessionalism or thanks to certain attempt to make my work easier. In the second part I would like to speak about two issues. In the third part, as Martin Schmarcz has already said, there will be time for your questions. Absolutely greatest myth of the past week was of course a great polemic about the fact that I wanted to improve my media presentation. I think it is good and I do think it is necessary to improve it, but I feel necessity of communication; that is why I started to hold these briefings. As to the last week, I chose an issue, to tell the truth it was rather an example of that unprofessionalism, and it concerned the well-known problem of little Tereza Smutná. A court decided first that Tereza Smutná was to be treated at a mental hospital. Finally she was returned to her mother. I regard as the depth of unprofessionalism when a photography with another little girl, with whom I was together with Dana Kuchtová at a different press conference, was used in an article on little Terezka and me. I regard it as the depth of unprofessionalism, and it is just small example of certain problems of journalists´ unprofessionalism, which I highlight. I think it is rather a problem of internal codes, which I do not want to meddle in. But let me say it, at least. I regard as an example of unprofessionalism those comments on the meeting of the government in the Brdy region. We learnt that those who were against the radar protested on the spot. We learnt about my, rather humorous respond to the desire of Vlasta Parkanová to sing. We learnt that members of the government were gathering mushrooms. Nevertheless, as to frequent complaints of citizens regarding lack of information on the radar placement in Brdy region, no information was given in media, in spite of the fact that there had been a press conference held on this issue and number of statements had been expressed there on reasons of the radar placement; however, non of them was quoted by media. I regard it as really very superficial. The issue I must comment on, and which I regard as very dangerous, is certain arguing whether I should have fly, similarly like my predecessors, in a helicopter dressed in camouflaging overall to a dike in north Moravia and with my own body protect the dam against bursting. I had been informed all the time in detail about proper operation of the system and that no catastrophe occurred in the end. It was flood that will occur frequently and the important thing is proper operation of the system, integrated emergency system, and emergency staffs. And the regional flood emergency staff and the respective ministries operated like this. The system proved it is set correctly. The question is why many-billion projects have not been implemented yet, to which resources are allocated and are deposited in reserve funds at the individual ministries. Why these financial means have not been invested during several past years in Prague and Bohemia into retention ability of the countryside, into flood areas and such like. It is a different issue and it should be considered why it is possible that streams are so fast and regulated. And just on the upper reaches of rivers considerable floods and risks occur, as it was in case of Krnov and Opava region, and in other areas. It is connected with another myth, and I must say that it drove me mad. I am trying to get information on Ústi region and mining activities of Mostecká uhelná company, on Chomutov region and mining activities of Seceročeské doly company, on Sokolov region and mining activities of Sokolovská uhelná company, and on all the related problems. That is why I was the week before last in Ústí region for two days; that is why I was two days in the Sokolov region. The subject matter of the discussion in the Sokolov region, it was at a school as usual, was the discussion about the Act on Social Services, on great expenditure increase just because of this Act; we discussed with directors and providers of social care institutions in the region measures, which were necessary for the institutions, so that they would be able to survive until the amendment of the law. I must say that another discussion was held with regional representatives, with Regional Council on such projects like R6, and other development projects in this region, which were very outlying and under-funded. In this context I spent half a day in Sokolovská uhelná company, where I had possibility to see what was funded from the state resources; I mean reclamation, decontamination of land from the time period before 1992, it concerns old environmental burden and those 15 billion crowns, which we allocated and from which 4,5 billion crowns were earmarked for project in North Moravia. The debate was held and I regard those editorials as a bit misleading, as they did not get to the root of the matter. Those people who write articles about it should have knowledge about it at such level as people of average education have. There exists so called hydric reclamation, forestry reclamation. The debate which I lead with mining companies is about proper function of the law of 1992; I do not mean just reclamation of land after mining activities, but the law shows also revitalization and re-socialization function, if people return to these areas, if it is possible to use natural environmental methods. It means to return of nature to the state when nature itself would help to recover. Somewhere it is necessary to invest money, for example in case of slag heaps or in case of mining spots. We debated whether the original state is to be reached or the state similar to the original one should be reached in the reclaimed and revitalized area Medard-Libý, where a fifty-five-hectare lake will arise. It is an area which developer firms are interested in. We debated about these matters also on a golf course, which arose at a slag heap, which requires considerable soil decontamination to return life there. I was speaking like this about the zoo near Dolní Rychnov. I am speaking in such a detailed manner because I regarded those editorials as very misleading. Dolní Rychnov is a village, which had its right as early as in 14th century. Nowadays there live by 300 or 350 more people there than it was ten years ago; quality of soil has increased and new house begin to be built there. If we want to have countryside in order, we cannot do only reclamation, or to plant birches on those slag heaps; we must return life there. That was the objective of visit of me and Minister Bursík. I do not want to provide you with more detailed information on our debate which was led on the spot. Both of us discussed those matters on the spot and concluded that that just Sokolovská uhelná company meets our requirement not only as to reclamation, but also as to re-socialization of the area and that all projects are aimed at time, when mining activities will be finished. I wanted to discuss this matter because I regarded your approach as very unprofessional. In spite of the fact that I said last week that I have confidence in all ministers, there are certain speculations again, and I will revert to this when I will be speaking on innovations. But I do not prepare any exchange of ministers. It applies also to Minister Kuchtová; we were sitting for two hours and a half together debating reasons which led to certain problems. We talking about their solution, but I am not preparing her removal. Now regarding the second part – I have forgotten those little bars of chocolate. Do we have them? So, hand them round to them so that they have it sweeter, because the first part was rather sour - I will ask employees of the press unit. I think it would be good to express my opinion on an issue, which is not perhaps as topical as you wish; nevertheless I regard it as a topic. It concerns possible strike of general practitioners. It is an issue which has number of implications and they are worth my comments. I understand it, and I understand well that they loudly show that they want those put off and unsolved problems to be solved. Piquant matter is who put them off, who did not solve them. It was not this government, of course. I know that payments of health insurance companies plague them; discussion has been initiated with the biggest one to find out whether it does it well. There is scepticism regarding health insurance companies, especially regarding the VZP (state-owned health insurance company). But what also plagues them is aging of general practitioners, education of new ones, issue of transfer of clients, paper work of the social system, to which new fees will be added. I must say that I have well-founded suspicion that the last representation headed by David Rath did not solve these problems intentionally; they regarded general practitioners as their objectors and enemies. I must say that this government has no interest in escalation of some problems. We said clearly what we wanted; we showed during those first steps that we were able to solve them and that we would solve them. Nevertheless, it is not possible to solve these problems, which have been accumulated during last eight years, in a half a year. I think it is the argument number one. I want to say that what incurred my displeasure was the fact that menace by the strike had begun before the procedure adjusting or compromising initial views and opinions was started. The term strike in case of general practitioners, who are kind of entrepreneurs in fact, is beyond the reality for me now; it is not adequate to the present situation and a piquant thing is that the procession is headed by those who are to blame. Therefore it is necessary for you to hear it from me. General practitioners could not forget that behaviour of Messrs Rath and Kubek. Payments resulting from the regulation of those gentlemen for 2006 must plague them up to these days. I am convinced that the situation will change rapidly in the next year because of implementation or a change of the system of health insurance companies and setting standard of the health care, which is free of charge according the Constitution, when I use this term in a simplified fashion, because it is not free of charge, of course. If general practitioners believe it and those first steps should lead then towards that opinion, I think that the strike will not be held and those negotiations will turn out well. The increase will not be as high as they wish, it is not possible, it will be conditioned by natural increase of payments of the general health insurance and those fees, which general practitioners will collect, of course. The second topic I have chosen for today has a connection with the issue I was speaking about. It has connection with innovations. I want to inform you at these press conferences with new plans, new projects of the government. I will present one of them in the next or in the next but one week as a very concrete contribution of ours to the enhancement of efficiency of our innovation process, innovation ability of the Czech Republic. We succeeded in the first step which I would call in a simplified fashion as "Stop to Debts". The other steps will concern prospects in this sphere; they will not concern solution of the past mistakes, but those matters which we will need in the nearest future. I regard the entire innovation process as a "boss's matter" as Germen say. I will present you a project which will solve the entire sphere of innovations and I will supervise it. By this I want to respond to the dispute, which arose last week and the dispute has quite concrete roots. After it was announced that part of implementation programmes of the operational programme VAVPI (Science and Research for Innovations), and of the second programme, which concerned competitiveness of the implementation agency Czechinvest, the dispute arose. I would say that certain players, who had already money flows from the Ministry of Education prepared, faltered after that statement and they did not like steps of the Minister of Education. I think it is great misunderstanding; political responsibility and controlling organs of both programmes remain at the Ministry of Education. Part of the programme, which has logical connection with competitiveness or with ability of our economic sphere of the industry sector to respond to new scientific information, will be implemented by Czechinvest agency. The rest will be implemented by the Ministry of Education. I think that the dispute was elicited intentionally and I must say that I pay more attention to the proper allocation of resources. I suppose that we will be prepared in time, so that those resources would be allocated. I have fears that they will not be allocated correctly, but it is rather different story. This is all from my side today. I have lots of other topics in my mind but I think that now you should be given time for your questions. I am at your disposal.

Martin Schmarcz, Head of the press unit of the Office of the Government: The first one is Česká televize.

Ivan Lukáš, Česká televize: Ivan Lukáš, Česká televize, good afternoon. I would have two questions, Prime Minister. First, what do you think of that criticism of certain members of the ODS. It concerns the fact that you allow coalition parties to negotiate on possible candidate of President Klaus. For example Mr. Janeček said you should not allow such negotiations. Mr. Bém said that it would be end of the coalition if Klaus was not elected. And the second question concerns the radar. There will be early elections in Poland; the American side issued a statement saying that it would put off those negotiations of the missile base. Can you say whether it is connected somehow with the Polish side, or whether they are independent processes, if those negotiations will continue?

Prime Minister of the Czech Republic, Mirek Topolánek: Regarding the first question I would say that my colleague Janeček can imagine that I could ban it; but he perhaps confused a position of any politician. Even as the Prime Minister I cannot forbid anybody to express his/her opinion. This is one thing. The second thing – I must remind the situation of December of the last year, when it was explicitly said that part of the coalition agreement was not an agreement on the future president. I think it is enough as an explanation; I cannot prevent my coalition partners from searching somebody else, from expressing their opinions, from expressing their opinions on our candidate, who is Václav Klaus. He was unanimously nominated at the common session of the group of deputies and the group of senators. I think that we will deal with chances of Václav Klaus only in time when it is necessary. It mean when we try to gain votes for his election. Now it is just rhetoric exercise, and I do not want to interfere into this matter. We have our clear candidate. The candidate is a party candidate, which means that our task is to gain sufficient number of votes for him both in the Senate and in the Chamber of Deputies, in compliance with the Constitution. As to the statements of Pavel Bém, I regard election of Václav Klaus, as well as it was in the case of the first election which I took part in, as an essential matter; nevertheless I do not think that it would influence the coalition. The coalition is jeopardized by every vote it he Chamber of Deputies, as it has such a mandate, which it gained after elections; it means 102 votes following the agreement with deputies Melčák and Pohanka. If there is such a mandate here, the government is jeopardized by every significant law, and president elections cannot change this situation; so, I do not know why somebody is astonished by this. I do not have a feeling I should forbid somebody to discuss; our candidate is clear. As to the second question, those negotiations have no direct connection. There are interceptors bound with the placement of the radar; nevertheless, according to existing studies they can exist independently - but there have been negotiations held about it neither between Polish and American side nor between Czech and American side. Our negotiations are independent; we will have separate treaties concluded. Now treaties with our comments are being considered in the USA; I mean two presidential ones and two ministerial ones, to say it in a simplified fashion. Our reservations to the original proposal are relatively serious, and therefore we debate on them separately. I do not have feeling that it would be jeopardized from the financial point of view, I do not think it would be jeopardized by early elections in Poland; nevertheless, anything can happen and we said positively that that influences which are connected with possible decision on the radar placement are clear. We said at the press conference at Spálené Poříčí that in case of existence of the only one doubt concerning health or environment, the radar would not be placed here; independently on possible early elections in Poland.

Martin Schmarcz, Head of the press unit of the Office of the Government: The TV Nova, please.

Kamil Houska, TV Nova: Good afternoon, Prime Minister. I would like to ask, to make it clear, in case Václav Klaus is not elected, you as the chairman of the strongest party would not see any problem concerning the future of the coalition.

Prime Minister of the Czech Republic, Mirek Topolánek: Every significant vote in the Chamber of Deputies is a problem connected with the future of the coalition. But it does not mean that the coalition will fall. The coalition has in the coalition agreement a clause, in which it is stipulated that in case the coalition does not enforce the basic programme package, it will bind another law with the vote on the state budget, it would try not to approve it and thus to cause early elections. There is not anything else stipulated there, and I cannot see any problem even in case that the state budget will not be approved; apart from the fact it would be a political defeat. Non-election of Václav Klaus would be a great problem, which might cause turbulences in the ODS in case it would be shown that there were votes of ODS members, which caused non-election of Klaus. Nevertheless, I do not think it would inevitably mean the end of coalition. But these matters are just speculations and I regard them as premature.

Kamil Houska, TV Nova: Will you negotiate with KDU-ČSL and the Greens on their support of Václav Klaus?

Prime Minister of the Czech Republic, Mirek Topolánek: I will negotiate. I will negotiate with all democratic parties, of course, as well as I negotiated during the last elections, and I will be trying to gain necessary votes for the election of Václav Klaus when the right time comes.

Martin Schmarcz, Head of the press unit of the Office of the Government: Blesk, please.

Journalist, Blesk: Good afternoon, Prime Minister, I have quite different question. I would like to ask whether you reached an agreement with you wife on possible divorce.

Prime Minister of the Czech Republic, Mirek Topolánek: There are wit questions and there are stupid questions; I do not answer the stupid ones.

Martin Schmarcz, Head of the press unit of the Office of the Government: Deník, please.

Kateřina Perknerová, Deník: Kateřina Perknerová, good afternoon. Prime Minister, I am not quite sure what you will present as far as the future innovations are concerned; nevertheless, I am looking forward to it. What spheres will it concern? I suppose it will also concern the area of social services. Mr. Nečas has a great plan to establish one central institution, which would cover the entire sphere of social services. Regional commissioners are against, above all those of the ODS. What is your opinion?

Prime Minister of the Czech Republic, Mirek Topolánek: When speaking about regional commissioners, nearly all of them are from the ODS. So, if they are against it is quite logical that they are regional commissioners of the ODS. It is not connected with the innovation process, I must say. It is more specialized matter, which is to create atmosphere for more significant share of the university research in the Czech research, which is to enable establishment of Centres of Excellence, which is to significantly accelerate transfer of research information into practice. The innovation process does not concern just research, of course; it concerns number of subjects and players, including the entrepreneurial sphere. It concerns discussion on establishment of a technological agency, on establishment of an innovation forum and it concerns considerable financial means which can flow from the structural funds; above all in case of those two programmes, I was speaking about. There are four of them in fact, but the key ones are the programme Science and Research for Innovation and the programme concerning competitiveness. Do social services need innovations? I understood it like this, and it is true. The law shows the right direction; nevertheless, all the reservation we had in the course of the debate in the Chamber of Deputies proved to be legitimate. The increase of mandatory expenditures is enormous in the situation when we rather need to stop it; it will not be possible to fund the system in the future. There are several problems in the law. First, it concerns the transitional period for clients of social guest houses who need not accept new agreements for three years. It is hardly manageable for these institutions because of funding. They receive money from clients in the framework of the contribution to disabled persons. It is up to eleven thousand crowns in the group 1-4, and up to thirteen thousand crowns in case of children. The problem is misuse of these contributions, as in case the social services are provided in households, they are regarded as contributions to pensions, not as social services. They are above all street workers providing social services, who face serious funding problems. Also private subject faces such funding problems. It means, when we are speaking on the Act on Social Services, that certain changes in the framework of that governmental package will have to take place in the next year, so that we would be able to fund the system. As to the big institution, provision of social transfers has been gradually shifted down to municipalities; nevertheless, it is obvious that certain centralization must take place. I understand why regional commissioners are against, as it is an issue which concerns allocation of means from the state budget. It is like in case of the education sphere. Nowadays, high schools are administered by regions, and they have not any competences from the funding point of view, from the point of view of wages or investments. They receive funds from the ministry, and their use is exactly determined. In case of transfer of competences to regions, it would be the ministry which would be against. I think that both mayors and regional commissioners realized that they would have fewer employees, fewer tables and fewer financial means for wages. This is the main reason, I think. The discussion is beginning now. It is not an issue, which we would promise to implement immediately. It is a significant change, which should make the entire system more effective, and it should interconnect those systems, so that people could not transfer from one system of social services to the other one and so that they could not misuse the social care as it is common nowadays. It is the principal objective, I would say.

Martin Schmarcz, Head of the press unit of the Office of the Government: Are there any further questions? I do not register any question.

Prime Minister of the Czech Republic, Mirek Topolánek: One more at the back.

Václav Dolejší, Mladá Fronta: Good afternoon, Prime Minister, I would like to ask a question that concerns tomorrow's day of remembrance of 11th September. Are Czech intelligence services placed on full alert?

Prime Minister of the Czech Republic, Mirek Topolánek: Czech intelligence services are always on full alert. I think I can say that since last year's events guards are constantly placed at certain buildings. I think that those measures are standard ones and we have no signals that they should be taken extraordinary ones.

Martin Schmarcz, Head of the press unit of the Office of the Government: If there is no question, thank you ladies and gentlemen, I thank the Prime Minister. Good-bye.

Prime Minister of the Czech Republic, Mirek Topolánek: I wish you to have a nice day and I am looking forward to see you next week.

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