Press Conferences

1. 10. 2008 8:54

Press Conference after the Meeting of the Government, Held on Wednesday 1st October 2008

Jana Bartošová, Government spokesperson: Good afternoon ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the press conference after the meeting of the government. I welcome members of the government, the Prime Minister, Mr. Mirek Topolánek, the 1st Deputy Prime Minister and the Minister for Regional Development Mr. Jiří Čunek, the Deputy Prime Minister and the Minister of Environment Mr. Martin Bursík, the Minister of Finance, Mr. Miroslav Kalousek and the Deputy Minister of Defence Mr. Martin Barták. I ask the Prime Minister for his introductory speech.

Mirek Topolánek, Prime Minister of the Czech Republic: Before I start to go through the standard agenda of the meeting of the government, I have one announcement for you to present. Then I would like to inform you on the meeting of the members of the government with representatives of the Union of Towns and Villages and then I would like Miloslav Kalousek to express his stand to the situation in the glassworks in Světlá nad Sázavou as there will be questions on this issue, anyway. The first matter concerns the announcement. The Chairman of the Independent Energy Commission, professor Pačes, handed me over yesterday the report of the commission on energy needs of the Czech Republic in the long-term time horizon. It should be available on the websites of the Office of the Government today. I will pass it immediately to the opponent group which will prepare an opponent review for the government. Then the government will deal with this issue in the course of verification of the energy strategy of the Czech Republic, as we have predicted and promised. I would also like to give you basic information on the negotiation with the Union of Towns and Villages, which was longer than we had expected. There were 7 items on the agenda. Apart from standard discussion on the budgetary allocation of taxes, which resulted in continuation of work of that commission that would be preparing a law which would come into force started from 1st January 2010, we dealt with water supply and distribution projects. Also in this area there were lots of problems, especially in case of big cities, for example Prague. We explained our attitudes. There will be far closer communication between the Ministry of Environment and the commissioned representative of Prague. We also discussed additional financial resources of municipalities; in this area the working group was preparing modification of the real estate tax and changes of local charges. The commission is already working and the minister will give you more information. We debated briefly the issues of education funding. We discussed problems relating to the transfers of real estates where there were no grave barriers in case of real estates that were under the administration of municipalities and that were to be transferred to those municipalities in case all conditions were met. And nowadays there is an exact form on the website of the Ministry of Finance which specifies these information requirements so that the property transfer would be speeded up. We debated waste management. We exchanged our views on the philosophy of the Act on Waste which was being prepared. We discussed the Act on Wrapping which was only in the process of preparation. We debated the Act on Lotteries and other Games and on the participation of municipalities in the decision-making process which concerned location. We reached an agreement in case of the Act on Compensation of Churches. It was quite apparent that the Union of Towns and Villages was an engine of the legislative process in case of this Act, because the Union solved number of development problems that towns and villages had. Towns and villages understood it and they intended to support the government. We finished the discussion on the problem of car speed measuring by municipal policemen. It was not the government which proposed to release municipal policemen from that power. Finally the Chamber of Deputies adopted a compromise which was acceptable for the Chamber of Deputies. The government just noted it and accepted it. Municipalities were not very content with the proposal. There was given a promise of the Ministry of Interior that there would not be any bullying from the side of the Police of the Czech Republic and that problems, if any, would be settled immediately. We were solving the social issues. Together with the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs we tried to explain that there were little funds for the active employment policy that there were 9 billions there and other 4 billions would be allocated from the structural funds in the following period. There had not be any fears that funds were lacking in the area of the active employment policy. We debated the Act on Social Services; the non-functioning system which we had inherited drew 6 billion crowns every year. Then we discussed programmes for rural support and what the municipalities appreciated most was the introduction of so called Czechpoints and the entire principle of e-Government, the importance of which was understood quickly by municipalities and it was also quickly implemented. We debated the issue of our presidency and the cohesion policy. I would like to indicate that the discussion was very had been was in the last year when we had for the first time an opportunity to meet. I was very content with the discussion as it resulted from it a great number of suggestions for those working groups which would deal with common problems of the state, government and town and villages. The third issue which I would like to mention concerns the matter that is frequently trashed out by media with lots of pieces of not quite precise information. I think that the government has a right to express its opinion concerning the situation which took place in glassworks which were facing serious problems. Now I would like to ask Miroslav Kalousek to present those problems so that you know what the situation is like. Then I will try to present measures which will be taken by the government to help people who are suffering from slump of this industry.


Miroslav Kalousek, Minister of Finance: Thank you. Good afternoon ladies and gentlemen. First, let me set to right great number of untrue statements of last days and weeks. You could read that the state had significant capital participation or even, as I read in a prestigious weekly paper, a majority capital participation in those glassworks, that it had state control over the groups Cryslatex and Porcela and that it had right of ownership was true. I will instruct the press unit of the Ministry of Finance to release those documents to anybody who will like to read them, so that it would be apparent that nothing of that was true. I avoid using the word "culprit". I would not allow talking about blame. To make clear who was bearing responsibility for that group of glass and porcelain I should say that as early as in 2003 the state concluded an agreement on administration of assets and on the transfer of income from investments in shares with the CSOB bank. It was rather complicated operation concerning the past when the IPB bank transferred offshore structures for the Triton Fund on Cayman Islands. Then, these offshore structures became a part of assets which were taken over by the CSOB in the framework of the relevant transaction documents between the state and the CSOB. The state paid about 49 billion crowns for the entire structure of assets and most of them was transferred to the state; expect from some those assets where there were certain legal obstacles. The state was in that group only as a beneficiary owner of income resulting from disposal of assets. The state did not have right of ownership it had not its representatives in bodies of the corporation. However, it is not true that it did not try to set it right. As early as in 2004 the Ministry of Finance and the Czech Consolidation Agency submitted a requirement to Mr. Souček and to its own investment manager, which was the CSOB, to enable the state or the Czech Consolidation Agency to have their representatives in bodies of the corporation and thus to have knowledge on corporate economic situation. It was debated at the common meeting, the minutes of which are available, and in these minutes it was stated clearly that representatives of the state gave reasons for their requirement for participation in bodies of the corporation by the fact that the state was a beneficiary owner of yields of invested capital of the Triton Fund and that the state invested in the increase of capital in the group 400 million crowns apart from payments for those offshore structures. The answer of Mr. Souček and Mr. Květ together with the CSOB was that they had a negative stand to the delegation of the state representatives in bodies of the corporation Sklo a Porcelán. They gave the following reasons for their standpoint: The exchange of persons in bodies of the corporation would have a negative impact on the cooperating subjects of the corporation, including bank syndicates. The bank syndicates, which had no interest in a transfer of shares of the corporation Sklo a Porcelán to the state, would have unfavourable opinions on the participation of state representatives in bodies of the corporation. Participation of the state representatives could cause problems from the side of trade unions. Yes, that standpoint presented by owners, Mr. Květ and Mr. Souček and the CSOB, was consecutively sent to the state. The state continued trying to get a control also through a direct participation or through an agreement on transfer of assets. It got a letter again from the CSOB. The CSOB wrote to say that there had been an agreement concluded in 2003 and that the state was only a beneficiary owner of incomes and that the CSOB was in the position of an investment manager and a creditor. Explicitly it was stated in the letter that there were legal obstacles which hampered the transfer of shares and that the transfer would be possible only after elimination of those obstacles. They were never been eliminated and rights of ownership always had Mr. Květ, Mr. Souček and the CSOB as an investment manager of shares. I emphasize that the state had neither rights of ownership nor its representatives in bodies of the corporation; in spite of the fact that it had been striving for that in times of my predecessors, it was always refused. I also do not suppose, taking those documents which are available into consideration, that the problem of the group has occurred only recently following the change of the rate of exchange of the Czech crown or following the financial crisis; as early as in 2005 the investment manager answered the inquiry of the Ministry of Finance to say that loss in the period 2001-2004 reached 1,4 billion crowns and that the trend was going to continue. That loss has been accumulating during recent years. I do not suspect owner of lack of willingness to solve the situation. I am of the opinion that they concentrated their efforts exclusively on the financial restructuring, not on the real restructuring, in spite of the fact that they were aware of the reality. They hired advisor for real restructuring of the group; nevertheless, apart from closure of some marginal workshops no restructuring took place. Those problems had been accumulating and they were later accelerated by the change of the rate of exchange of the Czech crown. If trade unions nowadays say that the state was bearing its own responsibility and it should have solved it, I would like to answer that trade unions, unlike the state, had their representatives in all supervisory boards. Trade unions, unlike the state, had greater chance to influence and to control economy of the group than the state itself. I do want it to sound as buck-passing. The Ministry of Finance negotiated during last days about the individual chances of savage of this industry as it was apparent that it was viable and that the way led through consistent restructuring, through sale of various assets, through finding a private investor. That was a task for an investment bank or for a private investor or for an administrator in bankruptcy. That restructuring should have been done by previous owners who could exercise property rights and who could make decisions. If they did not do that, it was the next owner or the administrator in bankruptcy who would have to do it. The state could not do that on no account; it could pose as an investor of a private firm, as its restructuring manager and to use public funds for that. First, it would be in breach of the Act on Public Support and second – it would be an irresponsible hazard with financial means of taxpayers. All the other tools will be mobilized by the government to help the region and those people who, through no fault of theirs, lost their jobs. It will be the Prime Minister who will inform you about that.

Mirek Topolánek, Prime Minister of the Czech Republic: Thank you for the floor. As an introduction, I would like to say that neither a bankruptcy nor problems related to insolvency may mean closure of the company. Sometimes the reverse is the case. We have been considering two instruments which were apparent and which we could use immediately and which have already been used. I want to say that the Minister Nečas cannot not take part in this press conference as he is in a close contact with the Head of the Labour Office in Světlá nad Sázavou and we, together with the Deputy Prime Minister Čunek, immediately checked the situation in companies which are facing shortage of manpower. There is a great chance there in companies of Foxcom and the TPCA in Kolín which are recruiting new employees; both companies are situated within the range of 50 kilometres. We are solving two problems now – immediate increase of funds for the active employment policy and retraining through strengthening of the budget by 4 million crowns and through the subsidy for the region for transport services, as it is apparent that there will not be jobs available in the town for a certain period of time and that people will have to commute to those companies which are at the distance of 50 kilometres and which are facing great lack of manpower and which indicated that they were willing to recruit employees. Just for the sake of order, in the Vysočina Region there are 3800 of vacancies, especially in the Havlíčkův Brod District where there are 848 vacancies. In neighbouring districts out of the Vysočina Region, in Hradec Králové, Chrudim and Blansko districts are 1080, 1620 and 1263 vacancies respectively. From this point of view there are no fears of long-term unemployment, and just these measures which the government can take immediately – subsidies transport services for those people and their retraining and other elements of the active employment policy – are instruments through which the government responds to the situation in the region. Now, just an announcement concerning tomorrow as there will certainly be questions regarding that matter - the Czech Republic is not endangered by a threat of a financial crisis; there are lots of reasons for that, not only the fact that we have the Czech crown and not Euro, but also because our bank sector is sound and it was not involved in transaction which had caused the crisis. As to the primary effects, the crisis does not threaten, and those secondary effects depend on whether countries where we export will be affected or not. We expected it in our state budget for the next year; the budget reflected the situation and certain cooling down of the economy, in particular in the Eurozone. I summoned a meeting of the Governor of the Czech National Bank Mr. Tůma, the Minister of Finance Kalousek and other officials, so that we could debate some fiscal or monetary instruments for a solution in case escalation of the crisis. Otherwise, we do not expect that the Czech Republic will be affected by the crisis as certain other European countries in recent days and weeks. That was just information for you, and now we will inform you on the government meeting agenda.

Miroslav Kalousek, Minister of Finance: Ladies and gentlemen, I apologize for entering the discussion but I realized that when I had been talking on legal obstacles of share transfers and relating property rights, I did not specify them. The CSOB bank declared clearly many times that based on the agreement it would transfer shares and relating property rights to the state only after the relevant credit agreements were settled. They were never settled, of course. It was the right of the CSOB resulting from the agreement concluded in 2003, and it fully used that right. Nevertheless, in such a situation it was necessary to bear responsibility resulting from exercise of shareholders´ rights which had the state, Mr. Květ and Mr. Souček and the investment manager which was the CSOB.

Mirek Topolánek, Prime Minister of the Czech Republic: Thank you for that information. Martin Bursík will inform you on the Bill amending the Act on Nature and Landscape Protection. The 1st Deputy Prime Minister will present draft government orders amending the government orders on the budget of the State Housing Development Fund for this year. We also debated the National Forestry Programme to 2013, and I ask Martin Bursík to act on behalf of Minister Gandalovič. I suppose that an interesting issue for you will be the Proposal to conclude an agreement between the government of the Czech Republic and the government of the United States of America on Antiballistic Defence Cooperation., and especially in the sphere of research. We debated the Analysis of Various Public Referendum Alternatives and I think that a very interesting issue for you will be the information on the operation of forces and means of the Ministry of defence in the framework of foreign missions for 2009. It is not any breakthrough information but it is just a confirmation of the planned state which was already approved. Now I ask Martin Bursík to start.

Martin Bursík, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Environment: Thank you very much. First, I will inform you on the Bill amending the Act on Nature and Landscape Protection, which is a crucial legal norm of the sphere of environment. We have been negotiating it the whole year round. During the dialogue we have removed 43 comments. The bill responds to certain reservations of the European Commission concerning the fact that there is no compatibility of our law with the European directive; it concerns birds´ protection and also the assessment of forest management plans from the environmental point of view. We found a solution which would be very balanced and which would satisfy the European Commission; nevertheless it would not mean a bureaucratic burden for forest owners and managers. The second important issue concerns exemptions. You have certainly noticed that we used to carry such thick packages of paper to the meeting of the government and half of them concerned exemptions, as the government had to decide on exemptions in case a photographer wanted to take some photographs in the first zone of a national park or in case of a race of some ten people who wanted to jointly climb the Sněžka mountain and such like. They were exemptions ranging from nonsense up to significant issues. We were treating these problems and we are "de-burdening" the government which has already learnt to do it in an electronic way and thus we need not carry those papers. In spite of that, it is necessary to take decisions on those matters on lower levels. However, it may happen that the most conflict matters will have to be solved on the government level in the course of the entire administrative procedure, especially in case of a dispute over a construction leading through the area with special protection of birds. We also streamline the state environment administration. The environment agency restricts its competency only to extremely protected areas, national parks, and natural reservations and it becomes to be an administrative authority which decides in a decentralized way. The last, and perhaps the most interesting issue, concerns the long-term cutting down of alleys along roads. In this case we are in compliance with the Ministry of Transport. They proposed an amendment which would enable that only in the framework of administrative proceedings it will be decided on that cutting-down, if any. In such proceedings it will be enabled to propose corrective measures. If it is necessary to cut down an alley, it will be possible to take a measure for its re-planting, and the important thing is that there always must be an agreement concluded between municipalities and the respective road or railways authority. It also concerns the railway. The act ensures effective protection of alleys. Nevertheless, in some extreme cases it might be decided by the government. That was information on the Act on Nature and Landscape Protection. The National Forestry Programme to 2013 is a key document comprising in total 17 concrete measures in the sphere of forest economy. It is a well balanced document containing issues of forest economy, and social and environmental aspects. I will just briefly mention the main topics which should make you study it. The programme deals with issues of permanent sustainable forest management, importance of preservation and improvement of biological variety in forest, support of biomass usage for energy production, lowering expected impacts of climatic changes, and extreme meteorological phenomena, improvement of health state of forest and reaching balanced relations between game and forests. This is essential; in the following two years laws should be amended so that game population would be regulated in compliance with the tracks of forests, which is crucial for forest revitalization and for improvement of age and varietal structure of forests. The programme also deals with the social status of forest workers and with the rural development. It is a very complex document. I am of the opinion that the Ministry of Agriculture, which was the main sponsor of the Programme, did really great deal of work. We are only co-sponsors and we are glad that the document was passed by the government. Thank you.

Jana Bartošová, Government spokesperson: I thank the Deputy Prime Minister and now the 1st Deputy Prime Minister, Mr. Jiří Čunek, has the floor.

Jiří Čunek, 1st Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Regional Development: Good afternoon. I will present you a material on the change of the budget of the State Housing Development Fund. I asked the government to find some sources amounted to 1,2 billion crowns. Unfortunately, such sources were not found. Perhaps it was caused those matters which were ahead of us, and therefore we approved a change, as we found in our own reserves of the fund half a billion crowns, and to transfer this amount to the budgetary chapter of the regeneration of panel houses. It was a subsidy item which generates highest amounts from the side of the state. Now there are not 3 billion crowns, there are two billion crowns which will enable to satisfy requirements for this year. The last year was absolutely extreme as after years when only 700 million crowns, then one billion crowns, in the last year there were 4,5 billion crowns allocated to that programme. It was not possible to allocate it in the current year and so the government approved to allocate 3,5 billion crowns in the programme for the next year. That was information on the material which concerned the housing development. Then I submitted one more material to the government. It concerned the Action for Annulment of the Decision of the Commission of the European Communities on Execution of Obligations and Claims Settlement. We were convinced that the European Commission had set off 9,354 million euro which should have been paid out to us as a subsidy for some other purpose. In other words, sitting off those financial means was illegitimate, and therefore I would negotiate with the European Commission in the next week. In case an agreement is not reached I have a mandate of the government to file an action at a court of first instance in Strasbourg.

Jana Bartošová, Government spokesperson: Thank you, and now the 1st Deputy Minister of Defence, Mr. Martin Barták, has the floor.

Martin Barták, 1st Deputy Minister of Defence: Good afternoon. I would like to inform you of two documents which have been approved. The first one concerns the approval of the agreement between the government of the Czech Republic and the government of the United States of America on antiballistic defence cooperation; it is so called framework agreement. Do not confuse it with the agreement on strategic cooperation between ministries of defence or with the strategic dialogue. It is an agreement which was concluded in connection with the intention to place radar base of the USA in the Czech Republic. It is an agreement which enables Czech subjects better access to industrial, scientific and research cooperation, better access to information and it specifies the framework of that cooperation. It is certainly further success of our negotiators in the field of antimissile defence and it should be signed on the highest level in the following weeks. As far as the access of our firms to this project, it is certainly indisputable that it will mean better quality of cooperation and it will also mean certain privilege for Czech firms. The second material concerns the approval of our intention in the field of operation of forces and means of the Ministry of Defence in the next year; I mean missions in 2009. We plan to exert 1386 soldiers in foreign missions; nevertheless this number of soldiers need not be completely used. I would like to say that this ambition is a reflection of requirements of the international community; it fully reflects current demand concerning security, it reflects requirements of international organizations like United Nations, NATO, and the EU, and it means use of means which had been given to the Ministry of Defence during its transformation. We expect continuation of the mission in the West Balkan in the KFOR mission with 550 soldiers. In Afghanistan the total umber of soldiers will be increased up to 745 solders of the Czech Army. 645 of them will operate in the ICEV mission and 100 soldiers will be involved in the operation Enduring Freedom. A new mission is the air-policing in Baltic countries, where 75 members of the Czech Army will operate. Furthermore, based on the consultation with NATO and our allies, we are withdrawing from Iraq, and we will let there only training mission with five instructors, and three officers in the staff of the EU mission in Chad and Central African Republic. A new mission will be in the Sinai Peninsula together with international forces where three officers will operate in the commanding staff in 2009 and five officers in the commanding staff of our battlegroup. Missions will be fully funded from the budgetary chapter of the Ministry of Defence. In case of using NATO Response Force or a battlegroup, off-budgetary sources will be used. I would also like to inform you that the government was informed of today's incident in the province Logar where our patrol of seven solders was attacked. One soldier was seriously injured the other were treated on the spot. A press release of the Chief of the General Staff will be published which will specify the detailes. The government, including the Prime Minister were promptly informed on that event. Thank you.

Jana Bartošová, Government spokesperson: I thank the 1st Deputy Minister of Defence and all members of the government. Now I ask you for your questions; first, questions concerning the agenda of the meeting of the government. The TV Nova.

TV Nova: I would like to ask both Mr. Barták and the Prime Minister about the connection with that increase in number of our soldiers in Afghanistan. Are you convinced that we have enough well-trained, armed and equipped soldiers? Both opposition and some experts claim that it is on the edge or even over the edge and that problems with the approval procedure in the Parliament might occur.

Mirek Topolánek, Prime Minister of the Czech Republic: In case of some problems during the approval procedure concerning the mission in Afghanistan in the Chamber of Deputies or in the Senate, those reasons will be certainly different. I do not suppose problems relating to rotation, training, armament or equipment. That increase is a result of both the situation and piling up tasks which we have in this region, and I do not expect any other problems. We know that it is a risky region. It is not any news and especially great attention is paid to the PRT (Province Reconstruction Team) in Logar. We are trying to finish the arming of that PRT so that it would have the best what is on the market. I do not think it is the main reason of possible problems concerning approval in the Parliament.

Martin Barták, 1st Deputy Minister of Defence: I would like to add that we must not forget two essential aspects. We are separate subjects neither in Afghanistan nor elsewhere. We are there in the framework of multinational efforts, in the framework of NATO and we became members of NATO just in the reign of current opposition which is very often criticizing various aspects. This government transformed and armed the army just for participation in these missions. It is necessary to take the development in those regions into consideration; it is not rigid al all. We are criticized many times for speedy acquisition processes; nevertheless, it is an answer to your question. It is necessary to quickly adapt to it. Our soldiers are undoubtedly well-trained and prepared, they have good material equipment and, as the Prime Minister said, if it is necessary to add some equipment, it will be add in order to ensure protection on the level of all the allied countries.

Jana Bartošová, Government spokesperson: Thank you, the Czech TV.

Karel Rožánek, Czech TV: Good afternoon. Mr. Prime Minister a will take up the question of my colleague Šuba; I am also interested in foreign missions. Do you think that your proposal could be approved by the Chamber of Deputies? To what extent will it be dependant on votes of the opposition deputies of the ČSSD (Social Democratic Party)? And one more question to Mr. Deputy Prime Minister Bursík – what will be the stand of the Green Party like, or the stand of your deputies?

Mirek Topolánek, Prime Minister of the Czech Republic: As an introduction I would like to say that we meet the commitment of the government, that ambition, that vision of the government that the Czech Republic is not a country which could participate in all missions just because of reasons that you have mentioned. It would be necessary to have great number of trained soldiers for their rotation and an ability to fund it. We are gradually withdrawing from Iraq and our participation in the other missions is smaller. We will participate in two great missions, in Kosovo and in Afghanistan. This is the first matter. The second one – in the past period of time when the left-wing government submitted proposals on our participation in Iraq and Afghanistan, it could rely minimally on a part of the opposition which supported it in its efforts. I firmly believe that our common responsibility and continuity will prevail over some short-term political intentions and some political efforts. Such matters should be solved in the Parliament and they should not become a special policy of the government. It has never been like that and we are not willing to change it. I am of the opinion that continuity is clear. I believe in the support of part of deputies of the ČSSD because we do not take any miraculous steps. All these steps are being taken in the context of the situation in Afghanistan and that mission was approved by deputies of the Social democratic Party either.

Martin Bursík, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Environment: As to this issue we are in agreement. It is necessary to maintain continuity of the foreign policy. It is not an issue which should be changed with changing governments and the Social Democratic Party was actively engaged in it. It was right and correct. If there is an effort to play a game with this issue, we will be trying to reach a wide consensus in the Chamber of Deputies so that it would not be a matter only of the coalition and we believe in it. If you ask me about the opinion of deputies of the Green Party, I will propose to support this motion to the group of deputies. I will ask the Minister of Foreign Affairs to explain foreign policy aspects; nevertheless, I cannot say what the stand of the respective deputies will be like. But I believe it will not be crucial for this issue and that we will win the support.

Jana Bartošová, Government spokesperson: Thank you, Jana Čermáková, the Czech TV.

Jana Čermáková, Czech TV: Good afternoon. I would like to ask what the result was in case of the bill concerning compensation of people who had not been allowed to finish their studies at universities. Thank you.

Mirek Topolánek, Prime Minister of the Czech Republic: The only one reason for suspension of that bill was the time and the sponsor of the bill wanted Minister Nečas to be present. The minister had had to leave the meeting of the government and therefore we had to suspend the debate to the next week. That was the only one reason. We were in a time pressure thanks to those negotiations with representatives of the Union of Towns and Villages.

Jana Bartošová, Government spokesperson: Thank you, the Czech News Agency and then Respekt.

Jakub Dospěva, Czech News Agency: I would like to ask Mr. Deputy Minister Barták about some details relating to the incident in Logar.

Martin Barták, 1st Deputy Minister of Defence: I received the press release of the Chief of the General Staff and so I will specify my information. The incident took place at 12:20 of the Afghan time about 4 kilometres from our PRT base, the Shenk base. There were in total 21 persons patrolling in four vehicles. They were attacked by fire from small arms. They answered the fire. One member of the Czech Army was badly injured and was transported to the hospital of the USA in Bagram. Other six persons were slightly injured. Four of them are in our hospital in Kabul, the other were treated at our base. Their families are being informed.

Jana Bartošová, Government spokesperson: Thank you, the TV Prima.

Monika Zajícová, TV Prima: Mr. Prime Minister, does it mean that the government inclines to the compensation of former students who had to leave universities after 1948? Does the Minister of Finance have some financial means for that compensation in its budget? Do you have any idea what could be the amount of such compensation? Thank you.

Mirek Topolánek, Prime Minister of the Czech Republic: If the entire government would inclined to such a solution, we would not have to wait for Minister Nečas for the next week. The opinion is not unambiguous. The problem does not consist in finances. Nevertheless, to anticipate the decision of the government is rather premature at the moment. We will deal with this issue next week.

Miroslav Kalousek, Minister of Finance: Nevertheless, it is true that in case the government decides, it will become a priority and it will be satisfied at the expense of other priorities; I have no extra money but I am ready to solve it at the expense of other priorities.

Jana Bartošová, Government spokesperson: Thank you, Právo daily.

Jitka Götzová, Právo: I would like to ask whether also the KDU-ČSL will support the Czech foreign missions.

Jiří Čunek, 1st Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Regional Development: I believe that the major part of its deputies will support them.

Jana Bartošová, Government spokesperson: Thank you, Respekt.

Respekt: Good afternoon. I would like to revert to the news on Russian spy activities in the Czech territory. Attempts to push through Russian economic interests in our territory were mentioned there. I would like to know, it is a question to the Prime Minister and the Minister of Finance, whether you want to resist to such attempts. I mean certain measures in connection with oncoming sale of the state property, as certain European government, British, Lithuanian have taken such measures so that their state firms were not purchased by semi-state Russian firms.

Mirek Topolánek, Prime Minister of the Czech Republic: First, if we take such a measure, you would be the last person who would learn about it. Second, it is rather standard news on activities of Russian spies which has repeated several time in recent years. It is a typical case of creation of a media bubble by media themselves. We did not comment that news as we regarded it as absolutely standard. What media made of it, was a typical bubble and I do not comment bubbles. I solve concrete problems.

Miroslav Kalousek, Minister of Finance: I regard the answer of the Prime Minister as absolutely comprehensive.

Jana Bartošová, Government spokesperson: Thank you, further question please.

Z1 TV: I would like to ask the Prime Minister a question. The Deputy Chairman of the Senate, Petr Pithart, said that he de facto did not know who the radar in Brdy hills would be aimed at. How would you answer? Is it possible that the Deputy Chairman of the Senate does not know it or that he is not able to answer?

Mirek Topolánek, Prime Minister of the Czech Republic: I do not know in what context it was said, it is a quotation lifted out of context. I have answered that for one hundred times. Try to find an answer of mine.

Jana Bartošová, Government spokesperson: Thank you another question of the Czech TV.

Alice Schinabecková, Czech TV: Elections are drawing closer, Mr. Prime Minister. I have a question to you which does not concern the Agenda of the government's meeting. Could you say what election result would you consider as a great success of the ODS? Thank you.

Mirek Topolánek, Prime Minister of the Czech Republic: I also answered that question and I do not want to change anything in it. I would regard as a great success to have nine regional commissioners; nevertheless at the moment it would be a great success for me if we will on the nation-wide level. On the regional level it is a question of the coalition potential of the ODS; if the ODS create a coalition or not. For me it is important to win the election. If we succeed, I will regard it as a success. Negotiations on regional commissioners are regional matters, after all. As to the Senate, I do not was to change my opinion, either. There are 27 mandates for one third of the Senate in stake. For maintaining our majority it is necessary to win 9 mandates. If we have 9 mandates, I would regard it as a success.

Jana Bartošová, Government spokesperson: Thank you, the lat question. Jana Čermáková.

Jana Čermáková, Czech TV: I have two questions, Mr. Prime Minister. First concerns a topical issue – firemen and policemen are protesting now in front of the Ministry of Interior. Is there any chance for them to get higher salaries? And further question – they say that if anything changes they are ready to protest and demonstrate in time when the Czech Republic will preside over the EU.

Mirek Topolánek, Prime Minister of the Czech Republic: There is a question whether armed forces and police forces should have trade unions. But it is a question which was solving by somebody before me. The Minister of Interior promised to implement a reform of the police and he implemented it. The reform was passed by the Chamber of Deputies and it solved about ten issues which had piled up during last 10-15 years. The Minister of Interior promised to reconstruct 1000 police stations not only for policemen but also for people who come there to solve their cases. The project is gradually and successfully implementing. The Minister of Interior promised firemen to give 40 new above-standard fire-engines. They got them last year and they would get them this year, either. The Minister of Interior promised number of things, which were fulfilled. He promised that if there was a possibility, salaries would be increased. The salary increase took place following the amendment of the Act on Service of Civil Servants. I cannot see any other possibility how to increase salaries in comparison with other employees of the public sphere. I regard that protest not as inefficient, but inadequate because if we consider the average salaries, it is a question here how they are distributed; there is a space for a discussion there as those complaints of trade union members are also aimed at distribution of wage funds at the individual units. Those salaries are far above the average salaries in the Czech Republic. Therefore I regard it as a political act, not a pragmatic act. Unfortunately, the Minister of Interior is not present; otherwise, he himself would answer it. Ivan Langer always fulfilled what he had promised.

Jana Bartošová, Government spokesperson: Thank you.

Jana Čermáková, Czech TV: And the second question – the Minister Liška will sign today the operational programme Research and Development for Innovations. It is the programme because of which the Minister Kuchtová had to resign. How do you content with it as it is signed late and funds could have been drawn. How do you content with the preparation under the leadership of the Minister Liška.

Mirek Topolánek, Prime Minister of the Czech Republic: I think that it is a great simplification and great misunderstanding that Dana Kuchtová resigned just because of that programme. It was not truth then and it is not truth today, either. It is just an interpretation of media and I do not want to accept it. That was the first comment of mine. The second comment – I am very content with the Minister Liška as he managed to inject new life into the ministry and to implement that programme which was set in quite a complicated situation. He will not only sign the programme today, which enables drawing funds in this year and which was a kea condition for his positive assessment, but he also managed to set condition for that drawing in the framework of the respective priorities, and he has done first evaluations of those projects which could be funded just from the project Research and Development for Innovations. He was appointed in a very complicated situation which was difficult to be managed; nevertheless, he coped with it very well.

Jana Bartošová, Government spokesperson: Thank you. The last question, the end is drawing closer.

Journalist: I am sorry; I have some questions to the Minister Kalousek - is the privatization of Česká pošta (Czech Post) planned and when? And what revenues are expected?

Miroslav Kalousek, Minister of Finance: It is really nice question which outstrip events. I have a material of the Minister of Interior and we will debate the transformation of Česá pošta to a joint-stock company, and its denationalization. I really do not know whether we will discuss possible privatization of a certain part in the future. If a privatization takes place, it will not be in this election period. In other words, we are now discussing the transformation of Česká pošta to a joint stock company which will remain in the state possession. I cannot see further even if I take my glasses.

Mirek Topolánek, Prime Minister of the Czech Republic: I had a feeling that the question was addressed rather to me but Miroslav Kalousek answered very well. In the current situation the new director has a principal task to transform Česká pošta to a joint stock company, and we are still discussing whether the company will have a holding structure or not. His task in the following months is also to respond to the directive on services in this area which is being prepared, and which will significantly influence business and the competition and services in the entire sector. Denationalization does not mean privatization. We do not consider implementation of the privatization process during this election period as it would have to be broader consensus reached.

Jana Bartošová, Government spokesperson: I thank all members of the government, and I thank you for your attention. Good-bye.

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