Press Conferences

30. 7. 2007 8:40

Press conference after the meeting of the government held on 25th July, 2007

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 Deputy Prime Minister for European Affairs, Mr. Alexandr Vondra, the Minister of Agriculture, Mr. Petr Gandalovič and the 1st Deputy Minister of Defence, Mr. Martin Barták. I will give the floor to the Prime Minister now.
Prime Minister of the Czech Republic, Mirek Topolánek: Welcome to the press conference after the last meeting of the government before the governmental holiday. Before information on today's meeting, let me inform you, without reading the letter, of the fact that we offered aid to the prime Minister if the United Kingdom Gordon Brown, as our experience with natural disasters similar to those that British citizens are suffering from are relatively extensive. We can provide not only these experiences but also large-capacity pumps, dryers, and experts, who they might need both because of flood experience and the post-flood regeneration, because we are of the opinion that we have something to offer. That is perhaps all as an introduction. One more piece of information as an introduction in the case that no question is asked concerning it. On 27th July, after the return of the 1st Deputy Prime Minister Jiří Čunek, a special aircraft will be dispatched to Brussels where the Decision of the European Commission on adoption of the National Strategic Reference Framework, which we have been awaiting anxiously, will be handed over to the Czech side. It will enable far faster negotiations on operational programmes and a possibility to use the structural funds of the EU. Now as to the meeting of the government – we added number of issues on the agenda that was prepared in advance. Beyond the framework of the original agenda we debated funding of the Nordic World Ski Championship sin Liberec. The material was finally approved without problems. We also debated the documentation connecting with re-financing of the group Sklo a porcelán (Glass and Porcelain), we debated number of documents. I think that they were six conclusions of the NKÚ (National Audit Office) submitted by its President Dohnal and responses of the individual administrators of the state budget headings to those conclusions. And according to good practice of this government, majority of those measures, which had been taken as early as in the course of those controls, and which had been proposed in the resolutions, was accepted by the NKÚ. We debated the issue that concerned consumption of milk, and I would leave it to Petr Gandalovič, we debated the point, which concerned my sphere, sphere of the Chairman of the Council for Drug Policy, and it was the Action Plan of Implementation of National Strategy. We also discussed the Annual Report on Activities of Nuclear Waste Disposal Sites Administration, including its statute. It was approved without problems following the agreement of the Minster of Industry and Trade and the Minister of Education, Youth and Sports. We debated a significant document, which concerned the long-term priority of this government on unification and better focusing on the development and humanitarian aid. We debated a material on international development cooperation and medium-term outlook of its funding; the tendency is to unify the development and humanitarian aid, of course and to integrate it in a central regime and finally to transfer it into an agency, which would be a step number three. We debated the main principles of restructuring of České dráhy, Joint Stock Company (Czech Railways). This company will be a topic of meetings of the government during the following months. We debated number of materials that concerned funding, and also a material that concerned the approval of the government to participation in settlement with former Philips Hranice Multidisplay company. In this connection I state that only in the sphere of retraining provided from the budget of the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs, the Czech Republic lost 800 million crowns thanks to "excellent" management of previous governments. The settlement is one of few chances how to save at least part of the money, let alone investments incentives, the fate of which was similar. I speak only about retraining programmes and about the amount of 800 million crowns, which we lost, in fact. We also debated the appointment of the government representative for the Institute for Totalitarian Regimes Studies or for the Institute of the National Memory, as it was formerly called; it will be Mr. Žáček who will become the government representative. I think that it is all, as to those material I wanted to mention and Petr Gandalovič will inform you on milk and digitalization of the cadastre and Alexandr Vondra will inform you on the negotiation, which had been held before the meeting of the government, it was the session of the Government Committee for the EU and Martin Barták is here as the Deputy Minister because of two materials, which were not considered in the course of the debate, nevertheless you might have some question concerning them.
Jana Bartošová, government spokesperson: Thank you and I give the floor to the Deputy Prime Minister Alexandr Vondra.
Alexandr Vondra, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for European Affairs: Good afternoon. As it is a tradition, once in about five or six weeks the Committee of the Government for the EU had its session before the meeting of the government. It approved two materials; first the Concept of Communication and Presentation of the Czech Presidency over the Council of the EU. It is something like a framework of the way of cooperation and coordination concerning matters connecting with the presidency. We are forming a round table of communication, where the individual spokespersons of ministries or other institutions will work. We also discussed the advertising a competition for a logo of our presidency; the competition will be held in several degrees. We understand it as an open competition; we will address students of schools of art and the commission will assess about the best five proposals and they will be assessed according to various criteria and finally, we suppose it will be at the turn of the year, the Prime Minister will choose the winning proposal. Unfortunately, in accordance with rules of the competition, we will not be able to inform you of the logo or to show it to you; we will present you as late as about one month before beginning of our presidency. The second material – Assessment of Coordination Activities and Preparatory Works for the Presidency, we concentrated ourselves this time in particular on the programme of our presidency, and there is an agreement regarding arrangement of 11 informal ministerial councils in the individual spheres. It is an idea of the Czech side and it will be a topic of negotiations with the European Council. And there is also an agreement that we will make use of this opportunity and we will arrange most of those ministerial councils outside the capital, it means we incline to the traditional model. Regarding this matter we communicate with the Association of Regional Commissioners and with mayors of some big towns, who are interested in it. Of course, it is premature to speak about the individual localities, but it will be spread evenly on the entire territory of the Czech Republic, from west to east, from north to south. And we also expect from it that it will be the entire country, which will be able to enjoy the presidency, not only the narrow establishment in the capital. Apart from other things, members of the committee were also informed of two actions that had been brought. One of them concerns decision of the commission on merits of allocation of emission limits and the second concerns excessive agricultural reserves; in other words, both actions were brought. The government decided on them as early as in the past, but they were not brought formally at those times. Thank you.
Jana Bartošová, government spokesperson: Thank you, now the Minister of Agriculture, Mr. Petr Gandalovič as the floor.
Petr Gandalovič, Minister of Agriculture: Good afternoon. I would like to inform you that the government approved the government order, based on which the programme "Milk for Schools" is prolonged. We are accenting a new approach of the distribution in the programme; it means that milk will be distributed through vending machines, which there are more advantageous charges there. We hope that there will be far more vending machines with milk products that it is today, when such products as coca-cola prevail. I must also say that it is a programme, which is used in all the countries of the EU, with the exception of about three countries – Malta, Cyprus and one more country. Our attitude is rather critical, because it is a programme, which does not include any social aspect; it means it is not a programme, which would be focused only on needed people. Nevertheless, we are convinced that there are reasons here for continuation of the programme. And above all, I repeat again, the modern distribution system guarantees that not only milk packed in boxes, which is not very popular, will be available but also cold yogurts and such like. The second point I submitted to the government concerned the change of the fee system in cadastre office. As you certainly know, the government had set an objective to accelerate digitalization of the cadastre, which is a significant step that would speed up work of this office and shorten time for making entries and copies of these entries. Of course, it is connected with certain expenditures and we decided that part of these expenditures will be at applicants´ expense. It will be in fact a restructuring of the existing fee; it means that while there was the only one fee in case of an entry of one piece of real property or one complex of real property, now the fee will be paid for each piece of real property. We suppose that acceleration of the entry into cadastre procedure and improving performance of the office is far more required by those who contact the Cadastre Office, than the increase of fees in case of larger complex of real property. The last thing I would like to announce is that the government approved the Fishing Operational Programme, which is to bring about 150 million crowns annually in the next seven years and it is to upgrade our traditional agriculture sphere to higher economic and environmental level. Thank you.
Jana Bartošová, government spokesperson: I thank the Minister of Agriculture and now the 1st Deputy Minister of Defence, Mr. Martin Barták has the floor.
Martin Barták, 1st Deputy Minister of Defence: I would like to inform you that the government approved the proposal for negotiation on the agreement between the Government of the Czech Republic and the Government of the USA on the financial aid in liquidation of transferable anti-missile systems. In particular, it is important because there is fear here that in case of absence of liquidation, spreading of these materials to third countries, which do not ensure necessary security, might take place and thus this arsenal would represent an increased risk and danger for the civil air transport. The financial aid from the American side will be at the amount of 600 thousand USD and it will fully cover costs of liquidation of these unnecessary systems, which are composed of 1359 missiles and 658 launching bases. It concerns missiles Strela-2M and thanks to it, there will be significant economies in our budget, as we will not have to use our funds earmarked for the liquidation of that unnecessary ammunition of this type. Thank you.
Jana Bartošová, government spokesperson: Thank you and now there is time for your questions, please.
Martina Kuzdasová, TV Nova: I would like to ask you, Prime Minister, about the drug policy, that action plan. What funds are expected to be spent?
Prime Minister of the Czech Republic, Mirek Topolánek: We did not approve the financial plan of this sphere today, we postponed it to the next meeting, it means to 13th August.
Jana Bartošová, government spokesperson: Thank you, further question, please.
Helena Šulcová, TV Prima: Good afternoon. Prime Minister, I would like to ask whether you plan any coalition meetings before the approval procedure of the reform during governmental holiday. And what is your opinion regarding proposals of the expert group of the ODS; will you defend them at those negotiations?
Prime Minister of the Czech Republic, Mirek Topolánek: As far as I know, the negotiation of the expert group cannot be held until Monday 13th August. I will speak to number of people, of course. The coalition negotiation will be held on Monday and there is no reason now to arrange it sooner. The negotiation of the expert group prepared two alternative proposals in fact, which we will want to consult. There will be time enough before submission of amending motions or a complex amending motion to discuss these proposals on Monday or Tuesday in the "Coalition Three", Coalition Nine" or "Coalition Hundred".
Jana Bartošová, government spokesperson: Thank you, further question, please.
Jan Hreňo, ČT: I would like to ask about the České dráhy (Czech Railways), which are to be divided in November to passenger and freight service. Is there any idea on subsidies for passenger service, which is unprofitable?
Prime Minister of the Czech Republic, Mirek Topolánek: I have a feeling that it will not be in November. I do not have the material with me; so you can find it, all matters are described in it. The result of the resolution is different than that mentioned in the material. The division and forming subsidiary companies will take place in April of the next year, if I am not mistaken. This step has been preparing for a long time. Now it is connected with creation of so called "dead way", when separation of freight service is a logical step and it is evident that not just cross financing, but mutual subsidies are not transparent nowadays. The government expects financial recover of both types of transports. Both passenger and regional transport will be integrated under the railway transport track and we will know what the costs are, at least. Now we are subsidizing without knowledge on the real costs. It is evident that further steps can follow. This is the first one, a preparatory step and it will mean more transparent costs of both freight and passenger transport.
Jan Hreňo, ČT: Do you have an idea about the financing of passenger and freight transports, which are now being cross financed and it is not transparent enough.
Prime Minister of the Czech Republic, Mirek Topolánek: They are financed mutually, because sometime costs of railway stations and railway tracks are debited to passenger transport. Thus the freight transport seems to be subsidized and on the contrary from the point of view of revenues the passenger transport is subsidized by freight transport. It means that now nobody is able to make the system more transparent. This preparatory step will lead to more transparent financing and it will enable to indicate eventual losses of the individual types of transport. And the following steps will continue.
Jana Bartošová, government spokesperson: Thank you, Mr. Takáč, Česká televize.
Daniel Takáč, ČT: Good afternoon. Prime Minister, I would like to ask for two things. The first one – has it ever been considered forgiveness of the Libyan debt in exchange for release of those Bulgarian medical officers and what is the state of negotiations on the settlement of the Libyan debt? That was the first thing. And the second one – the Ministry of Education insisted on Mrs. Neumannová as the Chairman of the Organizational Committee of the Nordic Ski World Championship in Liberec in 2009, and warned that it could stop subsidies connected with this championship. Will the government debate it? Is not it a problem? Does not an international scandal threaten?
Prime Minister of the Czech Republic, Mirek Topolánek: Both these things smack of tabloids, and therefore I must say that we have never negotiated on financial compensation for release of Bulgarian nurses. It is perhaps a result of inexact translation of the French daily Figaro. And we did not negotiate on the forgiveness of the Libyan debt at all. I exclude it; this is the first matter. It will be Alexandr Vondra who will say something about the Libyan debt, but nothing indicates that things have changed. As to the second matter, it concerns the World Championship, I informed you that a material was approved which exactly allocates 700 million crowns, which had been approved before and it was the proposal of the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports for the individual years and spheres. The fact that the government, ,not only ministries, wants to have better knowledge on using these funds and that it wants to bar various speculations, which have been accompanying the World Championship in Liberec, and which will not accompany it any longer, as I hope, this requirement of the Ministry of Education I support. We want to supervise using funds, as this championship is not only local or regional event, but it will be held in the first half of 2009, in the time of our presidency of the EU. I just remark that it is after some 40 years the first event of this type on the Czech or Slovak territory. The last one was the World Championship in the High Tatra. In this sense our concern and our requirements are absolutely valid.
Jana Bartošová, government spokesperson: Thank you. Further question, please.
Jan Šindelář, ČTK: I have an additional question that concerns České dráhy (Czech Railways). Does it mean that in April the freight transport and passenger transport will be separated and transferred to subsidiary companies? And the second question concerns points, which were not on the agenda. Did the government debate the agreement with Kapsch and the third annex?
Prime Minister of the Czech Republic, Mirek Topolánek: The government did not debate any annexes, about which it knows anything. Perhaps you are better informed than the government. The passenger regional transport will be integrated in the SŽD, Joint Stock Company, it means it will be integrated into railway track administration. Call Aleš Řebíček or read the material, it will be better.
Jana Bartošová, government spokesperson: Thank you, further question, please.
Petr Janiš, Právo: I would like to ask, if I understood well Prime Minister, about the answer concerning the reform. You said there would be amending motions or one complex amending motion, if I am right. And then, I have second question – did the Deputy Prime Minister Bursík tell you where he was going for his leave and whether you can say here where he is staying.
Prime Minister of the Czech Republic, Mirek Topolánek: I cannot answer your first question, as I am one of one hundred of deputies or one of one hundred and two deputies, in case of an agreement with deputies Pohanka and Melčák, and I really do not know what the result of the debate will be like; whether there will be some small amending motions or some more principal one. I would prefer of course one complex motion which would have a support of 102 deputies. That would be ideal. In this sense I cannot anticipate further development As to the Deputy Prime Minister Bursík, I was informed about the planned journey of Martin Bursík similarly as I had been informed about the planned journey of Pavel Bém.
Petr Janiš, Právo: And where is he?
Prime Minister of the Czech Republic, Mirek Topolánek: I do not know it exactly.
Jana Bartošová, government spokesperson: Thank you, further question.
Adéla Kovalčíková, Hospodářské noviny: I would like to ask about teaching Czech for foreigners who want to get residence permit. I would like to know if any new decision were taken, and especially information regarding funding of the programme. The last question – do not you think that it discourages foreigners from staying in our country? They contribute to the tax system, to the state budget and such like.
Prime Minister of the Czech Republic, Mirek Topolánek: I am of the opinion that far more foreigners who work here do not contribute anything, because the rate of illegal workers in our labour market is equal to the rate of legal workers at a minimum. That was an explanation concerning the last part of the question. We postponed the material to the end of August as I think. We did not agree on number of matters. We want, together with the Minister of Interior, the Minister of Justice, and the Minister of Education, to prepare more complex material, which would solve also the green card planned as the labour permit, residence permit, or citizenship acquirement from the point of view of necessary legislative changes and requirements for the individual grades of residence in the Czech territory. We did not agree on funding either; the Ministry of Education prepared only two variants. One of them is free-of-charge; the other one expects full payments of a foreigner. We agree on a combined model, we do not agree on necessity to certify providers of these services, as we suppose that certification of institutions, schools, which would organize those exams would be enough. My personal opinion is, if you like to know it as the government did not adopt a resolution, that we must very sensitively identify who we want to have in our territory. I am of the opinion that they are legal workers who need labour permit, not a residence permit or citizenship. In this sense the green card is a priority for me and it is not a Czech language examination for those who ask for residency permit, because it does not imply that they need Czech language and that they want to work here. It means that we did not agree on the philosophy of the proposal, we will be working on it. We agree that in case of funding, it should be implemented a combined funding; the state could contribute to the examination itself and financing of the teaching, the type of teaching would be left to a foreigner. But I do not think that the material is definite enough to make some further comments on it. We will still debate it.
Jana Bartošová, government spokesperson: Thank you. Further question, please.
David Mařík, ČTK: I have a question regarding points no. 11 and 23. They concern the change of the budget of the State Housing Development Fund and the sale of selected securities of the ČKA (Czech Consolidation Agency).
Prime Minister of the Czech Republic, Mirek Topolánek: It was withdrawn; the material was postponed; first, because of the absence of the 1st Deputy Prime Minister Čunek. As for me it was also because of my aversion to debate the material in this form.
Jana Bartošová, government spokesperson: Thank you, Mr. Takáč once more.
Daniel Takáč, ČT: For all that, I would revert to the coalition negotiation on the reform; you have partly spoken about it. For all that, I would like to know what possible amending motions the coalition is going to accept or to reject in case of an agreement. Are you going to bind your deputies so that they will not submit any amending motions to the Chamber of Deputies, or are you going to leave it to their will? Thank you.
Prime Minister of the Czech Republic, Mirek Topolánek: In case we agree on one complex amending motion, I do not know if we can bind somebody, but we can recommend it. Apart from other thing because of the fact that any other amending motion would not have chance to be adopted. Therefore, I would deem it as a pointless effort or perhaps as a speculation that the motion could be adopted by the opposition, which would be still worse. I firmly believe that the government's proposal showed after all those negotiations, whether they were in the expert group or elsewhere, that it is the most balanced and that finally just insignificant amendments will take place. In case of tax changes, the requirement of fiscal neutrality is still valid and we will have to find such economies on the expenditure side or revenue side of the budget so that the tax changes would not change the principal objective; it is the decrease of the public budget deficit down to 3% in compliance with the requirement of the European Commission presented at the last session of ECOFIN.
Jana Bartošová, government spokesperson: Thank you, the ČTK once more.
Martin Petříček, ČTK: I have a question regarding points 28 and 29. They concerned the transfer of the state property from DIAMO to the town of Ostrava and the second point concerned 900 million crowns for Hyundai; but I suppose it concerned just technical transfer.
Prime Minister of the Czech Republic, Mirek Topolánek: I do not know.
Jana Bartošová, government spokesperson: I will chase it up and I will let you know. Is there a further question? There are no further questions. Thank you and the extraordinary press briefing of the Prime Minister will be held round about 16 o'clock. Thank you.

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