Press Conferences

8. 7. 2008 15:51

Press Conference after the Meeting of the Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and PM of the Czech Republic Mirek Topolánek 8. 7. 2008

Condoleezza Rice, US Secretary of State: Thank you very much, Mr. Prime Minister, for receiving me in this place, one of the finest where I have ever attended a press conference. Prague is a beautiful, wonderful city, and I am very glad to be here. I am looking forward to the time I´ll spend in Prague. Naturally, later today we´ll sign a treaty on the location of the radar base in the Czech Republic, part of a system designed to strengthen the NATO system. This agreement is important as a stable block not only for the security of the United States and the Czech Republic but also for the security of NATO and that of the international community as a whole. Since we are facing serious threats; proliferation of ballistic missiles is not an imaginary threat, as you surely know. Iran continues its defiance of the international obligations and has not stopped the enrichment of uranium, also extending its arsenal of weapons and missiles, and we have to be prepared for this threat. The ability of the Alliance to function efficiently and the ability of its member states to promote freedom and harmony depends on a strong multi-layer defence capability, and that is why the agreement is very important indeed. But this is also a course which concerns much more than anti-missile defences, it concerns an extraordinary path to democracy the Czech Republic has travelled. I know that the anti-missile defence system and its agreement must be approved by your Parliament and that is, in itself, an exceptional indicator and signal, and a victory for democracy. Because this is the way things are done in democracies. So I am looking forward to meeting your parliamentary representatives later today. Naturally, the Czech Republic has passed many events in its history, often lacking freedom. But freedom has always been strong in the hearts of the Czech people. And when we met with the Prime Minister today, I told him one thing I would like to say here. Namely that the Czechs have now secured their freedom, that they have secured it here in the Czech Republic, they have secured it with their membership of the European Union and they have secured it with their membership of NATO. But they have not yet been satisfied with that, and they do not want to be only free people but they are also resolved to help in spreading the blessing of freedom to others. This means – we have a partnership in Iraq, in Afghanistan and we have a strong voice represented by the Czech Republic for the peoples of Belarus and Cuba. So, let me thank you, Mr. Prime Minister, for being here today, for having invited me here, and thank you for being such a friend of the United States. 

Mirek Topolánek, Prime Minister of the Czech Republic:
The years which have figure eight in their date have a special - sometimes people say fatal - significance in our history. 90 years ago - in 1918 - the United States stood at the birth of our modern statehood. And I am glad that this year, another year ending with figure eight, I was in the White House meeting President George Walker Bush, and that I am today welcoming here in the Kramář Villa, symbolically the seat of the first Prime Minister of Czechoslovakia, the Secretary of State of our ally - Condoleezza Rice. I am not fond of pathetic words, but the fact is that we have already been in a similar situation in the past and we failed then. We did not accept the Marshall Plan, and in my opinion we cannot afford to make such a mistake again. It is symbolic that the arrival of the US Secretary of State is once again connected with our statehood and freedom, just as 90 years ago. Later today we will sign a treaty on the anti-missile defence, an agreement which spells out our common will to defend the free world. I appreciate the fact that we were able to negotiate this agreement and I firmly believe that it will also pass through a successful ratification process. I would like to stress that in addition to this treaty on anti-missile defences we will also sign a general agreement providing for defence cooperation in science and research. This is a major contribution for the Czech universities and companies who will now have access to high technologies whose uses will, quite naturally, be also peaceful. Needless to add, we are still monitoring developments in the negotiations on the anti-missile defences in Poland, and I keep in regular personal contact with Prime Minister Tusk. As for the Czech Republic, today’s signature (of the treaty) means that we will honour our alliance obligations stemming from NATO membership. That this facility has an alliance character has been also confirmed by the conclusions from the Bucharest NATO Summit. If the negotiations between the United States and Poland are becoming complicated, this does not mean that we somehow failed. Our negotiations were very hard, realistic and goal-oriented. Naturally, we also discussed a number of other issues and as the US Secretary of States has already said, we also talked about topics associated with our common participation in missions. We discussed Afghanistan, we dealt with Iraq where US and Czech troops fighting side by side are demonstrating their personal courage and responsibility for international freedom, and an ability to cooperate with other nations and allies. In those countries, we are trying to introduce peace by military means in a bid to create space for civilian administration. Both components, military and civilian, have to go hand in hand. Peace can be won by weapons but must be maintained by well-functioning social institutions. In Iraq, we have a contingent of 20 people, including 14 specialists for the training of the Iraqi army, we are sending to that country development aid which amounted to 520 million CZK between 2004 and 2005. Accent is placed primarily on a strong and functioning central government and the project of national reconciliation. Iraq will need assistance even after its security situation has been calmed and stabilized, and we are well aware that this will be a long-term task. A full one third of the Czech Republic’s humanitarian aid is going to Afghanistan, last year almost 28 million CZK. We have been in Afghanistan since 2002, a Czech Provincial Reconstruction Team is now operating in Lógar province within the US base. For this year, we reckon with 435 Czech soldiers, laying considerable stress on the transfer of responsibility for reconstruction and development to Afghan institutions. A major test of our activities there will be the presidential and parliamentary elections in 2009-2010. We have also discussed with the US Secretary of State the situation in the Middle East and possibilities of further developments after the end of the Annapolis process; future situation in Palestine and relations with Israel concern us primarily as the country to hold the EU presidency. We share very similar opinions relating to the solution and settlement of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. Naturally, the trans-Atlantic relations, which will be a priority during the Czech presidency of the EU, were also on the agenda of our talks. The tasks lying ahead include the summit EU-United States, promotion of economic cooperation, coordination and more efficient work in Afghanistan, energy security. In conclusion, let me mention the importance of the visa programme, an area where we are a pioneering country in negotiations of visa-free contacts with the United States. I hope we have succeeded in meeting all the conditions for participation in your country’s visa programme, and that by the end of this year the Czechs will be able to travel to the USA without visas. And I would like to thank Condoleezza Rice and the US Administration that we have been able to negotiate the whole matter. Thank you for your attention. 

Jana Bartošová, press spokesperson of the Government of the Czech Republic: I would like to thank the Prime Minister of the Government of the Czech Republic, the United States Secretary of State Mrs. Condoleezza Rice, and you for your attention.

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