Press Conferences

5. 3. 2008 9:53

Press Conference after the Meeting of the Government, Held on Wednesday 5th March 2008

Jana Bartošová, government spokesperson: Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the press conference after the meeting of the government. Let me welcome the Prime Minister, Mr. Mirek Topolánek and the Minister of Defence, Mrs. Vlasta Parkanová. I ask the Prime Minister for his introductory speech.
Mirek Topolánek, Prime Minister of the Czech Republic: As an introduction, I would start with something else. I visited a man yesterday, whom I esteemed highly, who has never feared to express his opinions both during the totalitarian regime and after year 1989; a man who I did not always agree with, but whom I esteemed highly; a man who has always been courageous and high-principled, whether it was profitable for him or not. Ivan Medek was that man, to whom I awarded the Medal of the Prime Minister for his lifelong fidelity to ideal of democracy and freedom, for his contribution to freedom of speech, because all of us certainly remember his voice, or those elderly at least, from the broadcasting of the Voice of America from Vienna. We had an opportunity to listen to him very often after 1978. Thanks to his opinions, he managed to abnegate all what he loved, and what he was able to do, what he had been educated for. He abnegated the profession of a musician, music critic and he worked as an orderly, a dishwasher and cloakroom attendant. Finally, he emigrated. I think it was the last award, for certain time period, as far as those people who were fighting for freedom are concerned, whether it was Tom Lantoš or Doctor Oskar Bisset or the Mašin's group. Because of his attitude to the fight for freedom and against communism, Ivan Medek crowns that series which relates to the unfortunate anniversary of February 1948. That was introductory information. At today's meeting of the government, number of issues of a technical character was debated. The Minister of Defence herself will inform you on the progress regarding negotiations on delivery of armoured carriers. Owing to my departure to the session of the European Council, we finished the debate on the position of the Czech government to the climatic-energy package and we were of the opinion that auctions of emission limits for the energy industry should be spread from 2013 to 2020. This position is quite common as far as new countries of the EU are concerned. As to issues, which were debated, we debated the Bill amending the Act on Arrangement of certain Relations in Public Support. I submitted this bill together with the Chairman of the Office for Protection of Economic Competition, Mr. Martin Pecina. This was an implementation proposal for what had already been possible last year, and it was trade of the state with its own bonds. Sometimes it is advantageous for the state to buy its own bonds and to issue new ones, more advantageous. We managed to save two billion crowns last year; the operation was neutral. It means that we sold bonds and bought new ones for the same price. The result is more favourable structure of bonds and more advantageous position of the government. We liquidated the Cooperative Saving Bank Securing Fund. There are nine of them I think and their operation is based on different principles than those which bankrupted in the past. After termination those bankruptcy procedures, the fund is liquidated, as it will not be necessary. The system of cooperative saving banks is based on different mechanisms and different securing mechanisms which are common in other countries. We approved conditions for granting subsidies related to early termination of agricultural activities by agricultural entrepreneurs. I welcome this item because it enables maintaining agricultural activities in villages in case such activities pass from one generation to the next one in case of retirement of the elders. Our interest is forming family farms, forming passion for land, so that to return to the state before February 1948 or collectivization of our agriculture. This government order makes start and maintaining that continuity based on family farms possible. We approved the Government Order on Specifying Certain Conditions of Providing Separate Payment for Tomato Intended for Processing. This order was approved much less warmly; nevertheless, it would be entirely paid by funds of the EU and therefore we did not refuse that philosophy – when somebody gave us money, especially when it was our money. Also this item was approved. An issue which was suspended at the last meeting concerned the Extranet CR system for domestic distribution of classified documents. Costs of the system amounted to 36 million crowns. There was held a long discussion on it. We suppose that in connection with the Czech presidency the frequency of its use will be higher and that frequency will be influenced by the fact that the EU will implement this system of delivery. In case of certain ministries there were rather valid reservations concerning the fact that frequency of distribution of such documents was very low and so we decided to revert to this issue next year and to assess it. We also discussed information on evaluation of possible health risks caused by electromagnetic radiation of the radar in the military area in Brdy, spot height 718 near the settlement of Míšov. I just briefly state that this study was based on scientific work of those who had been involved in empiric measurements for a long time, and I can say that these health risks are excluded. I think it is all as an introduction and I ask Vlasta Parkanová to inform you on the progress of negotiations.
Vlasta Parkanová, Minister of Defence: Thank you for the floor. The government was informed on the material the title of which was "Information on the Progress of Implementation of the Project of Rearmament of The Army of the Czech Republic with Armoured Carriers". After my information the government adopted a resolution which I proposed, took note of the information on the progress and agreed to the progress up to now, which concerned that project. The government assigned me with a task to inform the government on the content of the memorandum before it is signed. You know that the government has debated this issue twice. First, it was on 11th December of the last year, when it unanimously approved the withdrawal from the contract because of non-meeting commitments from the side of the supplier. The next date was 30th January; in accordance with the resolution of the government of 30th January, the Ministry of Defence negotiated with the original supplier on terms of possible revitalization of that project. Two expert teams were established; the first one was a technical team and the second was team of lawyers. Conclusions of those teams formed conditions for tests at the accredited test shop, which was part of the military repair plant in Štemberk. It means a change in the position of the supplier, as on 30th January I informed the government that the supplier was not willing to have its vehicles tested in this test shop. Now the situation is quite different – the supplier is willing to do that. In case of positive results of these tests, a Memorandum on Understanding will be signed between our side and the supplier. The Memorandum is now being prepared; I estimate that it is a question of several weeks, when it will be concluded. I myself proposed to submit the proposal of the Memorandum to the government and have it approved before it is signed by both sides. In other words, it is probable that I submit the proposal of the memorandum in several weeks. Number of 107 of vehicles, wheeled armoured carriers in six versions will be probably proposed in the Memorandum. As far as time is concerned, supplies would be started as soon as possible. As to the price, it would be the same as the original one, in accordance with the original and terminated contract. The negotiations are not finished yet. We are relatively close to signing the Memorandum if the memorandum is signed and if those carriers pass the tests. These tests cannot be called control tests, because we are beyond the legal framework now. We withdrew from the contract and the new legal framework would be found once the agreement is reached in the framework of the settlement. But it is only one of possibilities, which will be negotiated only in case of signing the Memorandum and in case vehicles are allowed to be tested. At the ministerial press conference held in December, I said that we were withdrawing from the contract as we had only short time, some ten days to do that in a state when the supplier did not meet terms of the contract. I said that time that it was our duty to do that, so as to avoid a spiral of permanent concessions. Therefore I am very content with the existing situation. The spiral of permanent concessions is stopped and we are not those who are making concessions. In fact the only one concession of ours is that concerning the deadline. We are in situation now, when concessions must be made by the other side and I regard this situation as very advantageous for the Czech state and for Czech tax payers. During those negotiations which have been held recently, we took two aspects into consideration, which were called operational needs of the army. The fact is that the army needs these armoured carriers, and it needs them as soon as possible. We took also needs of Czech army industry into consideration. There are lots of suppliers, who are dependant on continuation of this contract. In other words, if somebody objected that plans of the army were not correct, as it originally wanted 199 armoured carriers and now it will be 107 of them, I would like to draw your attention to the appendix of this material, in which there is explanation of the difference between an optimal and indispensable need with regard to the budgetary framework and with regard to tasks which we must fulfil as a member country of NATO. It is number which the army calculated as minimal, indispensable number.
Jana Bartošová, government spokesperson: I thank the Minister of Defence, I thank the Prime Minister. The Czech TV has a question.
arel Rožánek, Czech TV: You were talking about 107 carriers in six versions. The price was some tens billion crowns. How much is the Czech state willing to pay for one vehicle, and how much money the Czech Republic will pay in total?
Mirek Topolánek, Prime Minister of the Czech Republic: Well, with regard to the fact that originally it was 199 time the unit price, now it will be 107 time unit price. It will be 1,9 time less.
Jana Bartošová, government spokesperson: Thank you, further question, please. The TV Prima.
Martin Nerva, TV Prima: Good afternoon, I have a question to the Prime Minister. Jiří Paroubek said today that names of all deputies of the Social Democratic Party who would vote for the radar would be crossed off a list of candidates. Do you regard it as a signal of the fact that it will be much more complicated for the government to enforce this issue in the Chamber of Deputies?
Mirek Topolánek, Prime Minister of the Czech Republic: I regret that I have with me the resolution of the Paroubek's cabinet of July 2006, in which the respective tasks of the government are exactly described concerning how to cooperate with the American side in the course of selection of appropriate locality and on further procedure. That is for the sake of order, so that Jiří Paroubek could not prevaricate that he did not know anything or that he did not enforce it. The fact that he is hauling deputies over the coals reminds me that rucksack with cameras which were prepared for the secret election of the President at the Prague castle. I regard it as absolute lack of freedom, as impossibility for deputies of the Social Democratic Party to decide; nevertheless, it is their internal problem and I am not going to comment it any longer. It has a slight connection with our last visit abroad; I was in the USA, Jiří Paroubek visited Syria. Now I am leaving for Israel and I am afraid of Paroubek's visit to Gaza Strip and members of Hamas movement. They are still Raul Castro and Chávez from Venezuela here. That is my answer. I regard it as irresponsible and the pressure to his own deputies and as a display of lack of freedom in that political party.
Jana Bartošová, government spokesperson: Thank you, further question, please.
Aleš Sosnovský, Czech News Agency: I have two questions. The first one concerns that energy package of the European Commission. You propose to spread that trading with emission limits in auctions up to 2020. In case the EC is not willing to accept this requirement, what would be maximal concessions of the government?
Mirek Topolánek, Prime Minister of the Czech Republic: I do not know whether you understand the system of negotiation within the EU, but the European Commission proposes something what is then passed to the individual sessions of ministers and the European Council makes the final decision. I hope this procedure will be maintained. Our position is given and we want make more exact analyses on the influence on our economy. It is absolutely apparent that if we accepted the reference date 2005 from the point of view of reduction of emissions of CO2, if we take into consideration the fact that from 1990 to 2005 fifteen old European countries increased emissions of CO2 by 3,6%, while the new ten countries reduced in that period emissions of CO2 by 26%, and if you take the reference year 2005 into consideration, then you must admit that it is great concession of new countries. And somebody will have to pay for the increase of CO2 emissions in old countries. That matter itself is a great compromise with which we go to those negotiations. If we realize that that great majority of our energy resources was constructed as early as before 1960´, great investments to more efficient brown-coal power station with higher environmental standards are ahead of us. In case of 100% use of auctions in trading with emission limits, financial means would be withdrawn just in the time period when they will be the most necessary. There was a long debate at the meeting of the government and it was the only one point which was not enforced by Martin Bursík. We will discuss it later on, either in the second half of this year or during our presidency to the EU in the first half of 2009, when the climate-energy package should come into force. It is our preliminary position now. There are certain variants of concession prepared, as it is very important what views of other countries will be like. It is apparent that especially new countries will face problems concerning this issue, and if we take technical parameters into consideration, also Germany is likely to have problems.
Aleš Sosnovský, Czech News Agency: I would like to ask for a brief comment. How do you see chances of Mr. Tůma of being elected the President of the EBRD, when ministers recommended the German candidate yesterday? Why did he fail? You said he was given great support a few days ago.
Mirek Topolánek, Prime Minister of the Czech Republic: What a pity Miroslav Kalousek is not present here, he would explain it to you. It was something what we dislike, as far as the EU is concerned; something what we often criticize. As early as on Monday, before the session of Ecofin held on Tuesday, those great countries agreed on their candidate. It is always a German or a Frenchman or a Frenchman with German name; this time it is a German. The fact that we do not like such a procedure is one matter; the second matter is to bang our heads against a brick wall and to try to push through very good candidate, certainly the best prepared candidate of all, who were put up. There were candidates from Greek, Poland and Hungary there. But it would be useless as the existing coalition, which supported the German candidate, has more than 50% of property in the EBRD, and thus support of other countries would not help us anyway. In this sense, we respect it; nevertheless, I should say that it was not standard procedure.
Jana Bartošová, government spokesperson: Thank you, now Reuters and then the TV Prima.
Jan Posselt, Reuters: I would like to ask a question concerning those emission limits. Is the government willing or prepared to obstruct the entire plan in case the proposal for gradual auctions of those emission limits fails?
Mirek Topolánek, Prime Minister of the Czech Republic: You are asking about something what nobody will be willing to tell you now. Moreover, it is not our habit to obstruct something we usually try to reach a compromise, which would be advantageous for the Czech Republic and for other countries. If you monitor the situation, Austrians obstructed investments to science in the nuclear energy sphere. I think it is far greater problem than our perceptive attitude to the auctions after 2013.
Jan Posselt, Reuters: If you allow to ask a question ...
Mirek Topolánek, Prime Minister of the Czech Republic: Therefore I do not have any dramatic conclusion regarding that matter, as it concerns just a framework position for the Prime Minister and his attendance to the session of the European Council, which will not deal with this issue in detail, anyway. Nevertheless, we will see in the next half a year what coalition we will be able to form for that change, which seems to be very useful especially for new countries; it does not mean that we are European ragamuffins. I stated clearly those figures – dramatic emission drop between 1999 and 2005. Certain stagnation after 2000 means that we want to continue in this trend, that we do not cause that problem; we meet commitments resulting from the Kyoto Protocol, unlike some other countries.
Jan Posselt, Reuters: If you allow, I would have another question concerning that radar. On the one hand, there is that position of the Social Democratic Party which strongly opposes the radar; on the other hand certain statements of the coalition Green party indicate that it might not be very easy to find support of the agreement on the radar placement in the Chamber of Deputies. I would like to ask whether and where you will be finding necessary support for enforcement the agreement in the Chamber of Deputies.
Mirek Topolánek, Prime Minister of the Czech Republic: My slogan is to worry about something only in case a situation takes place. Now we are doing everything to confute myths, so that we would explain those matters, which might seem to be problematical, to citizens and law-makers. We are negotiating terms of the agreement so that we could sign it, and ratification might be done at mid-year if things are running smoothly; it is a problem that we will solve once it takes place. I think that positions of the individual parties are quite unambiguous. I understand reservations of the Green Party. Their main reservation, it was the reservation especially of Ondřej Liška, concerned the involvement of NATO into the third pillar of the anti-missile defence. It is our claim as well, and I think it is also the claim of democrats on the American Congress, especially that Taucher's sub-committee. We are negotiating this issue and I am not frightened of attitudes of the individual political parties; the important thing will be the final vote, the ratification.
Martin Nerva, TV Prima: Topical issue of this week is that of Jiří Čunek. I would like to ask whether he will return to the cabinet, as you said yesterday that it would possible this week or by Easter – that there was a condition there. Well, what is the situation like concerning Jiří Čunek who is on the Angel Mountain now?

Mirek Topolánek, Prime Minister of the Czech Republic: I said "in all probability". I did not say "this week" or "by Easter". I got accustomed to the fact that you do not listen to me; but I really mind that if I say something, you interpret it in a different way. I have been saying for a long time the same things. The first sentence is that at the moment I do not doubt right of a chairman of a coalition party to be a member of the cabinet in case the party supports him; I think it is apparent and it is even included in the Coalition Agreement. That was the first sentence. The second sentence – in spite of the fact that I do not mind it, it minds the Green party and certain members of this party. I asked these two parties to negotiate and to reach an agreement. Without such an agreement, without a more open statement of Karel Schwarzenberg and Jiří Čunek, it would be very complicated. I do not think that such an agreement cannot be reached. The process has been suspended because Karel Schwarzenberg is still in hospital; the problem is whether my colleagues are ready to reach an agreement quickly. The third matter is that I really want to hear clear statement of the KDU-ČSL, not only statements of some individuals. I think that there will be a session of a top committee held on Tuesday. I am doing my best to maintain the coalition and therefore I will not allow return of Jiří Čunek if it would result in leaving of the Green Party from the cabinet. And I will not allow his return in case the KDU-ČSL is not willing to meet the Programme Declaration as certain deputies of this party indicate. Therefore, I want to revert again to the Programme Declaration of the Government, to verify the individual items and to cease to discuss matters which had already been approved. All my steps are aimed at maintaining the coalition as there are no other alternatives here; as you could notice, I am very persistent in this, and I will be very persistent in the future, as well.
Jana Bartošová, government spokesperson: Thank you, further question, please.
Hospodářské noviny: I have a question to the Minister of Defence concerning those carriers. You submitted two variants of further progress to the government in January – either an agreement with the company of Steyer or to call a new tender. Does the fact that you are preparing the Memorandum mean that it is a definite decision, that the company of Steyer will maintain the contract? If not – when will be the next deadline?

Mirek Topolánek, Prime Minister of the Czech Republic: It is rather a political matter now; I do not think it is a matter of facts.
Vlasta Parkanová, Minister of Defence: I just wanted to answer so that Mr. Schniedel would not have a feeling that I am not able to answer; he has sometimes such feelings as far as my person is concerned ...

Mirek Topolánek, Prime Minister of the Czech Republic: Go right ahead! I should say that I regard this question like a question which I would ask in case I would be rented by a company in order to find out the standpoint of the government. It is not decided yet, prospects are bright.
Jana Bartošová, government spokesperson: Radiožurnál, please.
Mirek Topolánek, Prime Minister of the Czech Republic: I am of the opinion that every government must make such decisions; we have made a lot of them and we have not lost any arbitration in spite of the fact that we made difficult decisions concerning companies like Setuza, Aero and Nomura. We are successful for the present and therefore, please believe us. We are doing our best to pay less for high-quality goods, so that the army has means for its disposal and could fulfil its tasks. So, we are doing our best and it is possible that the result will be in accordance with your indication.
Jana Bartošová, government spokesperson: Thank you, Mrs. Minister will add something.
Vlasta Parkanová, Minister of Defence: I will just add that the resolution of January, the journalist referred to, does not include what he said. In the resolution is stated that the government approved the proposal for further progress. It approved steps of the Ministry of Defence and assigned me with a task to inform the government on further progress of project implementation by 5th March. This is rather more general information.
Jana Bartošová, government spokesperson: Thank you, Radiožurnál, please.
Veronika Vařeková, Radiožurnál: May I ask how the debate on subsidies or on financial support relating to removal of flood damage that had occurred in 2007 turned out?
Mirek Topolánek, Prime Minister of the Czech Republic: It was approved without a debate. I think that there were not any problems concerning this item. It was approved.
Jana Bartošová, government spokesperson: Alice, please.
Alice Schinabeková, Czech TV: I would like to ask whether you will be striving for signing the main agreement on the radar base by the time the NATO summit is held. In what stage is preparation of the second part, that SOFA agreement? Thank you.
Mirek Topolánek, Prime Minister of the Czech Republic: I should say that the first issue is the political issue, and the second one is that non-political issue. So, let us divide it. It does not depend only on us, as well as in other cases. First, negotiation of the Deputy Minister Dusík and the Deputy Minister Pojar was held yesterday on the problematic formulation concerning environment. I have a feeling that it is a question of some three or five words and the problem will be removed without causing any other problems. I do not say that the signature is only a formal matter, but it depends also on the progress of American-Polish negotiations. It partly depends on certain tactics – whether to sign it before, during or after the summit in Bucharest. Nevertheless, those external influences are of such a character that I cannot say any exact date. Do not look to me for it; it is not possible at present. As to the second agreement, the negotiations have not been finished and I leave this issue for the Minister.
Vlasta Parkanová, Minister of Defence: As far as the second agreement is concerned, the NATO SOFA agreement, further round of negotiations is being held from Wednesday to Friday and the next one is scheduled for the last week in March. Now it is not possible to anticipate the result, it would be really a divination from the crystal ball. It is possible that those negotiations concerning the NATO SOFA agreement will be finished in March; nevertheless it is possible that they will continue in the next month.
Jana Bartošová, government spokesperson: Thank you, Lidové noviny, please.
Jiří Reichel, Lidové noviny: Good afternoon. I have a question to Mrs. Minister concerning those wheeled armoured carriers. The military repair plant in Štemberk is to make these tests. Is not there a conflict in this case, as it is one of main subcontractor in the Czech territory?
Vlasta Parkanová, Minister of Defence: If there would be a conflict the agreement on the testing would not be concluded. Our objective is not to manipulate it. So, if both parties agreed on it, then it means that there was no conflict there.

Jana Bartošová, government spokesperson: Thank you, the Czech TV and then Právo.
Daniel Takáč, Czech TV: Good afternoon. I would like to revert to the evaluation of health risk of the radar base in the territory of the Czech Republic. You stated that risks are excluded and that it was included in the report. But what was the debate on it like at the meeting of the government? What was the ratio of votes like? It was noted, if I am not mistaken; was the vote unanimous, did anybody vote against, did anybody abstain from the vote?

Mirek Topolánek, Prime Minister of the Czech Republic: Only in the only one case, I allowed myself to announce the vote, in spite of the fact that I did not inform you on concrete figures; I just said that the Ministry of Environment had not pushed through that framework mandate. I never inform on the vote ratio, you will not get such information from me. This is the first thing. The fact is that the government noted that issue, it was an issue just for information, we need not to debate it. It was information which was processed in a standard way as a government's material. In spite of the fact we held certain debate because problem was not only that we respect it or that we noted it. The problem also was how to treat it, how to inform deputies and the public. The debate concerned rather these issues than something else.
Jana Bartošová, government spokesperson: Thank you, Právo.
Jitka Götzová, Právo: I would revert to that survey. According to colleagues, Minister Liška had certain reservations about the survey and wanted its revision. I would like to know whether members of the Green Party had any objections. This is one thing. The second one – you said that Jiří Paroubek was hauling deputies over the coals; are not you hauling members of the KDU-ČSL over the coals, when you say that Jiří Čunek may come back to the cabinet on condition that members of his party are loyal?
Mirek Topolánek, Prime Minister of the Czech Republic: I will not respond to the first thing. I never respond to such fables, even those which are verified. I do not think it is good to respond to statements of my colleagues. Regarding the second thing – it is rather different. Our three parties agreed in December 2006 on the Coalition Agreement. We described in detail the individual areas, how they would be solved and we described the individual programme theses. We agreed on them and the programme received confidence. If this government is to continue, if I am to continue, then the Programme Declaration agreed will be implemented unless the individual parties agree on something else. In this sense I ask the group of deputies of the KDU-ČSL in the Chamber of Deputies to act in compliance with the Programme Declaration of the Government, otherwise the government could not perform its activities. I think it is quite correct. To exact the way of vote on a thing which I myself pushed through is very strange.

Jana Bartošová, government spokesperson: Thank you, if there are no any questions, we thank you.

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