Press Conferences

29. 1. 2008 15:45

Press conference after negotiation of the PM M. Topolánek with the Special Coordinator of the Stability Pact for SE Europe E. Busek held on 8.1. 2008

Jana Bartošová, government spokesperson: Good morning, ladies and gentlemen, welcome to this press briefing. Let me welcome here the Prime Minister of the Czech Republic, Mr. Mirek Topolánek and the Special Coordinator of the Stability Pact for South Eastern Europe, Mr. Erhard Busek. I ask you, Prime Minister for your introductory speech:
Mirek Topolánek, Prime Minister of the Czech Republic: Good afternoon. I am very pleased I had an opportunity to repeatedly meet Erhard Busek. I regard results of work, results of the Stability Pact in the sphere of the regional cooperation development and the support of stabilization of West Balkan countries, as very positive. I would like to thank Erhard Busek who has been working in the position of the Special Coordinator since 2002, it mean more than five years. The Pact was established in 1999 as a response to the Kosovo crisis and I must state, with the postscript "unfortunately" that the pact is after eight years still relevant and the situation in Kosovo is still on the agenda of all bilateral and multilateral negotiations. Through this step the EU initiated an important regional structure and supported the reform process in the entire region. As the Stability Pact supports mutual cooperation between countries, removes various tensions, it prepares those countries for the political, economic and security integration to the EU. I would like to say that I assured Erhard Busek during negotiations that the policy of the Czech Republic in the West Balkan is in this sense continuous that it is still a special priority of our foreign policy, and that it will remain one of principal issues, apart from the Euro-Atlantic orientation. Two basic foreign policy priorities out of three will concern just the West Balkan. The first one will be, and it will have to be our significant contribution, the finishing process of accession talks with Croatia; I am with Ivo Sanader in a close contact, and he will visit the Czech Republic in a very short time, so that we could discuss the individual steps, so that we could help in certain problems which accompany the Croatian integration process. And the second priority, which we will more or less inherit, is the situation in Kosovo an in the adjacent area, which will represent one of our principal topics during our EU Council presidency. We of course also welcome creation of the Regional Co-operation Council (RCC), which will mean take-over of responsibility of the region for controlling the regional cooperation. We are actively involved in its activities, we even paid up our contribution amounted to 50000; we provided it for this year's activities and I firmly believe that just this regional council will become a useful partner for the Czech Republic during our EU council presidency. We are prepared to long-acting support of all the activities, which will speed up integration of that region into Euro-Atlantic structures. That was my introductory information. I would like to thank ones more Erhard Busek for his personal contribution to this matter, just in this region.
Jana Bartošová, government spokesperson: I thank the Prime Minister and I give the floor to Mr. Erhard Busek.
Erhard Busek, Special Coordinator of the Stability Pact for South Eastern Europe: Good afternoon. I apologize for speaking English as only greeting was in Czech. I would also like to use this opportunity and to thank the Czech Republic and its government for their support, which continues since 1996, whether it concerns the initiative for cooperation in the South Eastern Europe or the Stability Pact or the mentioned Regional Co-operation Council, which will take over cooperation and coordination activities in this Balkan region. I would also like to emphasize that all the events in the South Eastern Europe have a direct impact on the situation in the Central Europe and the entire EU. All these matters are linked, and here our effort for ensuring peace and stability in this part of Europe has its roots. If I am to assess the situation after four wars, which lasted to 1999, I think that since 1999 we have managed to solve number of problems and there are only two principal problems that remain. It is Kosovo with its consequences to Serbia and the Serbian position and the internal problems of Bosnia and Herzegovina. As far as other problems are concerned, I think that we have managed to solve them. As to the accession of Croatia to the EU, I suppose that crowning of that key process falls in the time of the Czech presidency of the EU Council, and also the next year will be a key one, as far as membership of some other countries of that region in the NATO is concerned; it concern Croatia, Albania, and Macedonia, and I firmly believe that we will be successful, as it would be further guaranty of stability and security of these countries. Furthermore, I would like to say that the economic cooperation and the economic development in the South Eastern Europe will play essential role in the process of stabilization of this region and there are number of opportunities here for Czech firms and Czech entrepreneurs, and many of those opportunities are already being used. I would also like to emphasize need of the civil society support in these countries, and here, I would like to highlight the role of the Czech Republic, which advocates more liberal attitude to visa policy. I think it is necessary to realize that elder generation of Serbians could visit our, or the UE countries; nevertheless, the new generation – e.g. 70-80% of students in Serbia had no chance in fact to travel in these countries just because of the visa policy. Therefore, the Czech Republic together with other countries is trying to relax the visa policy. After signing the Lisbon Treaty, I would also like to highlight an important strategy of further enlargement of the EU. I am very glad that the Czech Republic will play a very important role in this strategy during its EU Council presidency in 2009, and we, on behalf of the Stability Pact, will support this initiative by all means, as it is a guaranty of stability and guaranty of further growth of safe Europe, our common space.
Jana Bartošová, government spokesperson: I thank both gentlemen, and now there is time for your questions.
Martin Jonáš, Česká televize: Good afternoon. I have a question to the Prime Minister. You said that the independence process must be a process which Serbia must be involved in. Are you of the opinion that the present development corresponds to this requirement?
Mirek Topolánek, Prime Minister of the Czech Republic: I think that my fears I had in November and December have not been confirmed so far. The process shows that it is directed and controlled. We do not have any special fears in this sense. Nevertheless, The EU Council in December approved a mandate for Kosovo Security Force of the EU. Javier Solana was given a full mandate for establishing such a unit. At the first or second session of ministers of foreign affairs details will be specified. I think that the situation might be escalated without a massive participation of the EU, not only in the security sphere but also in economic and diplomatic spheres, but there are no signs of it, so far.
Jana Bartošová, government spokesperson: Thank you, further question, please.
Tereza Šípová, Lidové noviny: When the Association Treaty with Serbia could be signed, what is your opinion? (Further sentences unarticulated).
Mirek Topolánek, Prime Minister of the Czech Republic: I think the problem has two levels. The first one concerns real default of certain commitments from the side of the Serbian administration in some areas, and the second one concerns the principal attitude of the EU not to connect this problem, not to connect the situation in Kosovo and Serbia and not to generate suspicion that it is a kind of a trade, as it is not this case. Therefore, as soon as Serbia is prepared, it will not be the EU which would hamper this process. On the contrary, and it was mentioned at the session of the EU Council.
Jana Bartošová, government spokesperson: Thank you, further question, please.
Jaromír Janda, ČRo: Good afternoon, there is news coming from Kosovo on possible constitution of an independent state of Kosovo within three months. I would also like to hear comments of the Prime Minister and Mr. Busek.
Mirek Topolánek, Prime Minister of the Czech Republic: It is apparent that the diplomatic pressure of the EU, the USA and other countries on the existing Kosovo administration has positive effects; I would say that those three months is approximately the period, which is said to be necessary for stabilization of the situation. It means that information of this type does not surprise me.
Erhard Busek, Special Coordinator of the Stability Pact for South Eastern Europe: I fully agree with the opinion of the Prime Minister. I would just like to say that I regard actions of the existing government in Kosovo as very rational, as very cautious and I hope the government to continue in it, and I also hope for the same attitude of the Belgrade government.
Jana Bartošová, government spokesperson: Thank you, the TV Prima, please.
Pavel Šuba, TV Prima: I would like to ask a question concerning a different issue ...
Mirek Topolánek, Prime Minister of the Czech Republic: Let us try to end up questions to this issue, so as not to keep much of Mr. Busek´s time ...
Jana Bartošová, government spokesperson: Does anybody have a question to this issue?
Mirek Topolánek, Prime Minister of the Czech Republic: O.K. I am yours.
Pavel Šuba TV Prima: Well, a negotiation with the firm of Steyer finished about two hours ago. Steyer was not willing to accept a compromise offered by the Ministry of Defence. Is it a sign of possible definite end of negotiations with Steyer or do you think that different measures might be taken?
Mirek Topolánek, Prime Minister of the Czech Republic: Primarily, I would like to say that negotiation was held with the Defendia company, which is a contract party and which acts on behalf of General Dynamics; it is an American firm. The fact that those transporters were to be manufactured in Austria, in the company of Steyer, it is rather a coincidence; it is not anything essential if I let alone job opportunities related to this contract. We were discussing this issue with Alfred Gussenbauer yesterday. There is a deadline – the end of January by which a proposal for solution will be submitted by the Ministry of Defence. We will discuss this issue at the first possible meeting of the government after submission of the proposal. It is unnecessary to finish negotiations now. It is true that the contract has been cancelled because basic parameters of deliveries, 25 out of 93 technical parameters, were not kept. It means that the Czech side could not take over those vehicles, because basic parameters were not kept. That was such a breach of the contract that its termination was possible. I regard the termination as legitimate and correct. Negotiations will continue and I have no doubt about because the Czech Republic needs transporters. It needs perhaps lower number or perhaps different types and in this sense, we will either reach an agreement with the supplier General Dynamics or we would have to cancel the process, but it is rather premature now, as no decisions in this sense have been made, and they could not be made.
Jana Bartošová, government spokesperson: Thank you, Tereza Šupová.
Tereza Šupová, Lidové noviny: Prime Minister, if I have opportunity to speak to you, information on certain slowdown of negotiations has come from Poland recently. Do you surprised at it? Are you also going to slow down the process?
Mirek Topolánek, Prime Minister of the Czech Republic: I do not think that the interpretation is exact. Donald Tusk, with whom I consulted it several times, as I met him repeatedly – I think we met three times recently. First it was at the session of the EU Council, then during the session of the Visegrad Four, and third meeting was on the occasion of enlargement of the Schengen area. It is not true that Poland slowed down those negotiations. Nevertheless, Donald Tusk unambiguously states that he will insist on fulfilment of those requirements, which are necessary for signing the agreement by the Polish government. Their reservations are similar to those of the Czech Republic and we are strictly coordinating the process. It is nothing to be surprised at. It rather concerns a discussion, which had been dwarfed in Poland, on averting the worse possible scenario; I mean that some changes might occur in the United States after the Poland's and the Czech Republic's approval to the project. I regard this as discussion, which is relevant and I do not think that any new American administration could cease the anti-missile project. We will negotiate on it; it is one of three principal issues. Therefore the negotiation was held soon after the New Year's Day, and I think that there would not be different opinions on the Polish and the Czech side. We are really very consistently coordinating this process.
Jana Bartošová, government spokesperson: Thank you. The last question, Česká televize.
Martin Jonáš, Česká televize: Allow me one question concerning Olympic Games. Could you confirm words of the mayor Bém that you have promised government's guaranty for Olympic Games?
Mirek Topolánek, Prime Minister of the Czech Republic: I refuse this silly personification of Olympic Games with the name Topolánek. Topolánek did not decide, does not decide and will not decide on anything. Now, the government either may or need not give legal guaranty, which more or less formally means confirmation of the Olympic Charter and some visa issues. I do not think that it is a matter of Bém and Topolánek, but it is a matter of the government and the Olympic Committee. Everything else is speculation.
Martin Jonáš, Česká televize: Just to add information – how will it turn out, if we take reservations of the KDU-ČSL and part of the Green Party into consideration? What is your opinion?
Mirek Topolánek, Prime Minister of the Czech Republic: I do not anticipate the vote itself. I will try to persuade the government that it would not be bound to any financial commitments now, and that it just means that we respect rules of the game, because if it was a question of financial means now, I would have nearly 100% certainty that it would not be approved by the government.
Jana Bartošová, government spokesperson: I thank you for your attention and good-bye.

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