Press Conferences

5. 5. 2008 11:50

Press Conference after the Receipt of NATO Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer by the Prime Minister Mirek Topolánek, Held on 5th May 2008

Martin Schmarcz: Good afternoon ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the press conference after talks of the Prime Minister of the Czech Republic Mirek Topolánek and the NATO Secretary General, Mr. Jaap Hoop Scheffer in the framework of his official visit to the Czech Republic. I welcome the Prime Minister of the Czech Republic, Mirek Topolánek and I also welcome the Secretary General, Mr. Jaap Hoop Scheffer. In the introduction I ask both participants for a few words. You have the floor as the first one, Prime Minister.
Mirek Topolánek, Prime Minister of the Czech Republic: Thank you. I am very pleased that one month after the Bucharest summit we managed to organize a conference which is aimed rather at a single topic - the anti-missile defence. But the anti-missile defence was also the success of the Czech negotiation team just at the summit, which was held one month ago in Bucharest. We discussed with the Secretary General not only issues connected with the anti-missile defence but also number of other issues, which connect us, which connect member countries of NATO in its efforts to ensure values the North Atlantic Alliance is based on. We talked about Afghanistan, about necessity to continue in using both the military and reconstruction forces. We talked about Kosovo, of course, about the importance of the smooth transition from UN forces to the forces of the EU; we talked about problems which accompany this transition, about our participation, about our interest to continue in the Kosovo mission. We talked about enlargement of NATO and about the process which in our opinion had not been filly accomplished; our expectations before the Bucharest summit had been rather different, nevertheless we debated necessity to continue in this process. We talked about a problem that the Czech Republic faces. It does not meet its commitment of the share of the defence budget in the GDP. Our budget is markedly below the agreed share of 2%. We talked about the problem we had been facing in recent years, we talked about the future. We talked about the C17 Project and about the continuation of the Czech participation in this project and about number of other issues. But now I give the floor to the Secretary General.
Jaap de Hoop Scheffer, Secretary General of NATO: Thank you very much, Mr. Prime Minister and thank you for hosting me and my delegation in Prague today. I can just emphasize what the Prime Minister has already said. We bilaterally debated actions of the Czech Republic, its participation in Afghanistan and Kosovo. I would like to express my sympathy to you in connection with death of a soldier of the Army of the Czech Republic, who was killed in action on 30th April; nevertheless it is very important for all 26 member countries to continue in the defence of common values in Afghanistan. The Bucharest summit was very important in this respect; it was great event which was held in the presence of the High Representative Javier Solana, the Secretary General of the UN, representatives of countries which contribute their forces and means to Afghanistan, and it strengthened our resolution to influence Afghanistan in a positive way. As far as Kosovo is concerned, I would like to express my approval to Mr. Prime Minister that it is very crucial, very important that time period between passing the responsibility from the UN mission UNIMIK in Kosovo to the EU mission EULEX. KFOR has very strong and clearly defined mandate resulted from the Resolution of the UN Security Council no. 1244. In case a new resolution is adopted, then the KFOR has responsibility for the stability and situation in Kosovo. As to further two issues, I as the Secretary General of NATO view with alarm expenditures for defence in the Czech Republic. I expressed my hope that the direction of expenditures for defence, which goes downwards at present, will be evened and that expenditures will go upwards, as it is not possible to reform or reconstruct the army without sufficient budget. And as a former air force officer I also know that it is always better when an aircraft has its nose or the front part in the direction from the earth upwards. When talking about aircrafts, also the project concerning aircrafts C17 was mentioned. I firmly believe that the Czech Republic will continue in its participations in this project. It is very important in the existing situation for member states to accumulate their means they have at their disposal, so that they would be able to buy these giant transport aircrafts for strategic transport and so that they would have flight hours at their disposal. Last but not least we debated very important issue of the anti-missile defence. It is a very important issue for the security of your citizens. Let us start this discussion from the point of view of our citizens, from the point of view of all citizens of NATO member countries. If we agree on the existence of the threat, and heads of states and governments did so in Bucharest, then it is necessary to protect our citizens from such a threat. Therefore I hope that NATO will continue in these discussions after the Bucharest summit, so that it would be able to reach some results by the NATO summit which will be held next year. I am not going to interfere into matters of the Czech Republic, nevertheless, allow me to say that the radar base, so called third pillar, is very important for protection of citizens of all member countries of NATO, and NATO has always been protecting citizens of its member countries; it has been doing it for some 60 years.
Martin Schmarcz: I thank the Secretary General and now there is time for two brief questions.
Jan Korsalc, Reuters: Could the Secretary General make some comments on the proposal of the American Minister of Defence, Mr. Gates for possible take-over of command in south Afghanistan?
Jaap de Hoop Scheffer, Secretary General of NATO: I noticed what had been mentioned in media during the week-end; nevertheless I will wait for the outputs of the American side. I do not think that it was expressed in such a way, that Americans would take over command in South Afghanistan. As the Secretary General of NATO I should say that Afghanistan is a very important mission for all 26 countries of NATO. If the efforts is extended also, I put emphasis on the word "also", by higher American participation, it will be very important and very fecund for security of all 26 member countries of NATO. As far as that conference is concerned, as I have already mentioned, NATO should intensify its performance in the framework of the public diplomacy; it is very important to explain why we are doing this or that. Some tests are being made. We are victims of the fact that certain means are tested in certain countries; it is not a computer game, it is a real threat and we should explain that what we are doing is the response to the prevailing threats.

Martin Schmarcz: Thank you ladies and gentlemen, I thank both gentlemen, have a nice rest of the day.

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