Press Conferences

10. 7. 2008 13:36

Press Conference Held on the Occasion of the Visit of the Prime Minister Mirek Topolánek at the Ministry of Interior on 10th July 2008

Jana Bartošová, Government spokesperson: Good morning, ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the second stop of the journey of the Prime Minister round the individual ministries; this time to the Ministry of Interior. I welcome here the Minister of Interior, Mr. Ivan Langer and the Prime Minister of the Czech Republic, Mr. Mirek Topolánek, whom I give the floor now.

Mirek Topolánek, Prime Minister of the Czech Republic: Good afternoon. As I have already said at the Ministry of Industry and Trade, I chose for today, rather coincidentally, two ministers, with whom I am very content – so, that was introductory information. The difference between the two ministries is that the scope of activities of the Ministry of Industry and Trade is very specialized, while the scope of activities of the Ministry of Interior is simply extensive, and I would say that, apart from the Minister of Finance, it is a key ministry, which is gradually changing from that "Ministry of Fright" to a real Ministry of Interior, as it is common in the world. I think it is a key change for which the Minister Langer and his colleagues are responsible in this one year and a half of the governance of the cabinet of Mirek Topolánek. As to the Programme Declaration of the Government and fulfilling the individual points, in the comparison with other ministries, this ministry fulfils 27 programmes, which cover the entire sphere of the Ministry of Interior and are relatively extensive. Overwhelming majority of them is either fulfilled or in the stage of their implementation. One task is delayed because of factual reasons. It concerns registers which will be submitted to the government in autumn, and it is a real breakthrough into the sphere of public administration. As to the horizontal tasks – reduction of number of employees – I think that Ivan Langer understood that task very well. It is good to know which people this task does not concern – it does not concern firemen and policemen. It concerns exclusively administrative staff, whether of the ministry itself or institutions which are controlled by the ministry. As a consequence of this, wages will be increased by 7%, it means above the inflation. And the task which Minister Langer fulfils the best concerns the reduction of the absolute number of jobs by 20%. It means that the task for the entire election period was fulfilled in the only one year, and he created space for increase of wages, which is annual. It is necessary to know that this was the principal task. It is not possible to reduce number of teachers without relevant decrease of number of children; it is not possible to reduce number of policemen; on the contrary, it will be necessary to increase it. But in case of administrative staff it is possible, in fact, and Ivan Langer understood it very well. I chose some of projects which had been implemented, and if the government will be confronted with the public evaluation, then I am of the opinion that these projects are so important that they cover great deal of activities of the government. To start with, there is the project "Open History", which concerns declassification of archives; finally the project developed to the establishment of a breakthrough institution, as I say the Institute of National Memory, and thanks to the amending proposal of Kateřina Jacques, the Institute for the Study of Totalitarian Regimes - the Czech parallel of the Gauck Department in Germany, where archives are digitalized and information collected. If only this remained after this government, including Schengen and the placement of the American radar in Brdy, then we would fulfil our historical role; I do not joke about it. This is the first matter, an absolute priority, and it was a success. Currently, the institute is operating; it is operating in the building of the former Ministry of Informatics, which was further task. We undertook to reduce number of authorities, number of ministries and only Ivan Langer was successful, as nobody remembers the Ministry of Informatics any longer. I think that it would be slow but sure if we dissolve one ministry in every election period. But still, I was thinking what to reproach Ivan Langer for. It would concerns some matters which he inherited. I think that it concerns the common task of the Prime Minister, the Minister of Interior and the Minister of Defence – the reform of civil and military intelligent services. It is a matter which is ahead of us and which is extremely complicated. It is not a reproach; it is a task which we have together. An absolute breakthrough in the last one year and a half is a matter which had been only a subject of verbal speeches; it is the e-Government project. "e-Gon" is in all its aspects, whether I mean the communication infrastructure, public administration, Czech POINTs, prepared registers or approved Act on e-Government such a breakthrough, which has not been experienced in the state administration in the last 100 years, and perhaps more than one hundred years. I am saying this absolutely seriously as issues relating to the public administration will be dominant issue of this office in the future. I have already spoken about Czech POINTs; it is incredible success as further 400 municipalities are interested in its implementation. Of course, also the scope of activities, which will be possible to settle at the counter, will be extended. Then, there will be a transfer from that physical counter to the electronic counter through the Internet, which will be far simpler, and it is the final stage. Adoption of the Act on Conversion to the Digital Television Broadcasting means another breakthrough after years of groping in the dark. It was a breakthrough which enabled the conversion to the digital broadcasting and I should say that relatively very resistant environment has to be overcome to achieve a progress in this sphere. As to the project of reconstruction of police stations, I suppose it is visible. 130 police stations were reconstructed this year, and by the end of the years 300 out of the total number of 1000 police stations, will be reconstructed. The project will continue and I think it is very successful. As to new police cars, we succeeded, after a long time and based on successful tender, in reaching significant price reduction and thus that considerable modernization of the car fleet enabled to hand over cars to firemen. The police car fleet has been modernized in an unprecedented way. A problem which preys our minds and which we are dealing with, concerns the Police Service Act which was adopted in the previous election period. We managed only to suspend that massive termination of the service in the Police, and we will have to cover that five-thousand deficit in number of policemen on various levels. This is one of tasks that we will have to deal with in the future. We also debated the criminal activities of policemen. In this respect, a proposal of the General Inspection of the Ministry of Interior has been prepared and it was not submitted in the framework of the police reform as it deserves far more thoroughgoing analysis and debate. The proposal will not concern only the Police; it will be really General Inspection which will be independent on the individual minister and ministries. The proposal will be submitted to the government this year. One of the most successful projects concerns the Integrated Rescue System; it concerns firemen, voluntary firemen and perhaps Ivan Langer will be speaking about it in a more detailed manner. As to horizontal tasks, like for example the reduction of paperwork, sale of useless material and abolition of paperwork that is not related to the ministry's scope of activities, I should say that the ministry has very ambitious plans and it want to sell useless material worth one billion and a half within two years. It will concern property worth 800 million crowns this year. In the framework of the communication infrastructure of the public administration, thanks to a successful tender, the ministry reached the reduction of costs related to the communication infrastructure. In some ministries the reduction was up to 50%; for example at the Ministry of Transport the reduction was by 50% and at the Ministry of Interior by 25% in comparison with previous period of time, which meant a reduction by tens of million crowns. It was possible thanks to the contract with Microsoft, which would grant licences for the public administration and the state administration. Thus the public and state administration will be got rid of those half-legal or illegal licences which regrettably existed. This project will enable to reach economies amounted to some billion crowns, I think it will be 5,5 billion during the six-year period. As far as the police reform is concerned we succeeded in its approving. If I spoke about a breakthrough in the e-Government, the police reform means large breakthrough and the police reform will be now implementing and putting into practice in several stages. I have forgotten the company Česká pošta (Czech Post). We intend to accomplish the process of denationalization, it means to transform the company to a joint-stock company and divide it to a part which will be privatized and to a part which will be administered by the state, so that this part could provide the public administration with services related to the e-Government. I have already spoken about the reduction of administrative burden. The Ministry of Interior is as successful in this area as the Ministry of Industry and Trade. Besides, it is in charge of the mechanism called Regulatory Impact Assessment – the well-known RIA, which as a bulldozer turns over every law and assesses it from the point of view of the administrative burden. It rather prolongs the entire process, but it does not increase the administrative burden and through measures taken by the ministry of Martin Říman, the administrative burden is reduced. An issue which I regard as absolutely essential is the issue of the fight against corruption. We have made great number of partial steps which are connected with the system of three "Ps". I want to say that the telephone line 199 is one of those steps, successful steps; nevertheless, we must prove that those steps enable good function and that we are able to improve the situation both in the sphere of prevention and repression. There are two or three issues here which concern the foreign policy, even though they are connected directly with our citizens. When we were appointed to our functions, it threatened that the borders of the EU would be open after 2011. It was also thanks to the Czech Republic and its campaign, its leadership of the entire group that we reached opening of the Schengen area. Nobody realizes that we can travel from Lisbon to Vilnius without passports and we cross borders freely. It is a success a special Task Force Team of the Ministry of Interior which was headed by Ivan Langer; it is necessary to thank him for that at a minimum. As far as visa for the USA are concerned, if we had left that problem to the EU, then there would be necessity to have visa for journeys to the USA for lots of years. At the turn of the year we have opened way for other countries and we had to fought out a struggle at the European Commission so as we could apply that twin approach, it means a parallel process through which we managed to achieve something what I regard as absolutely positive. If I am to assess the ministry, there are lots of problems here as the ministry passes through great changes. We will have to implement the police reform on the one hand and on the other hand we will have to follow that acceleration and that enhancement of scope of activities related to the e-Government and to the implementation of the digitalization of the public administration. I would like to thank the ministry, as those reservations I have, concern rather slower handling problems that had been inherited, not problems which would be caused by the ministry. I thank you for your attention.

Jana Bartošová, Government spokesperson: I thank the Prime Minister and now the Minister of Interior, Mr. Ivan Langer has the floor.

Ivan Langer, Minister of Interior: Thank you, good afternoon. We viewed today's answering to the Prime Minister as a football match; I mean that the first half is behind us. We presented here what our performance was in the first half and we explained our strategy for the second half. I do not want to state here all what happened in our football pitch during the first half. You have our presentation at your disposal. From my personal point of view, I regard as the most important the following issues. It was establishment of the Institute for the Study of Totalitarian Regimes; it was the entire process of repeated preventive lustrations of police high officials and high officials of the Ministry of Interior. It was the 20% reduction of number of employees at the Ministry of Interior if we compare autumn 2006 and September 2008. It was the sale of useless material - by the end of the year it will concern material worth one billion crown and in the next year it would concern material worth another half a billion crowns. It was undoubtedly our accession to the Schengen Area. It was certainly the law that concerns digitalization of the TV broadcasting, it was undoubtedly the birth of e-Gon, a new symbol of the E-Government with its four organs, as it has been mentioned here by the Prime Minister, – Czech POINTs, communication infrastructure of the public administration, the Act on the e-Government and basic registers. A culmination of the first half, of its last five minutes, was the reform of the Police of the Czech Republic. But there is the second half ahead of us, and I believe, Mr. Prime Minister, that there are lots of tasks prepared for it. It concerns accomplishment of the police reform, stabilization of the Police from the personnel point of view and especially enlargement of e-Gon's abilities in the form of new instruments of the e-Government. It is also true that we have responsibility not only for internal security but also for certain issues relating to foreign policy. I mean in particular the issue of abolition of visa requirements for Czech citizens, as on our shoulders rests ensuring of legal basis and certain institutional changes. I also mean the presidency of the EU where there is a project within our ministerial presidency a project of implementation of the visa information system for the entire Europe, which should mean higher security of EU inhabitants. We have prepared great number of further matters for the second half, I do not want to keep you long, but I regard as one of greatest challenges the sphere of the e-Government, accomplishment of the police reform, and personnel stabilization of the Police of the Czech Republic. With regard to the fact that we have practical experience that it will always rewarding to play until the ninetieth minute, I can assure you, Mr. Prime Minister, and all of you that we will play until the last whistle of the referee, as we played in the first half of the match. We chose a sport theme and it would not be good if the Prime Minister went away empty-handed. As it was a football theme, you will get such a golden ball from us and as we were celebrating a great event two days ago – the issue of the half-a-millionth copy of an entry in the record at Czech POINT – you will get a certificate of that half-a-millionth copy of an entry signed by me and my Deputy Minister Zajíček.

Jana Bartošová, Government spokesperson: I thank the Minister of Interior.

Mirek Topolánek, Prime Minister of the Czech Republic: I would like to add that the Czech POINT is something like a successful story, a nice story which is a proof that dreams should come true. Currently 267 000 statements of criminal records are issued in half a year which is incredible figure, and we should think hard about a real necessity to issue them – whether those who require those statements has right to require them. It is good that we are able to manage all that work, but the question is whether such a work is really necessary – and it is the further task the title of which is reduction of the administrative burden. And we will continue in this respect.

Jana Bartošová, Government spokesperson: I thank the Prime Minister and I ask for your questions. The TV Prima.

TV Prima: Good afternoon, I would like to ask Mr. Minister of Interior whether he was sleeping well before the Prime Minister's inspection.

Ivan Langer, Minister of Interior: Minister of Interior never sleeps well, whether it is before an inspection or after it.

Mirek Topolánek, Prime Minister of the Czech Republic: Minister of Interior never sleeps, after all.

TV Prima: Then, I have a question to you, Mr. Prime Minister. Can you imagine that your visits of ministries might result in change of some ministers in the last resort?

Mirek Topolánek, Prime Minister of the Czech Republic: I have already said that I did not want to exchange anybody. I am more or less content with my ministers. I am of the opinion that these visits are to result in defining of what was important for me in the past period of time, what is necessary to achieve and what is necessary to implement. This is a basis of my assessment and I repeat that the assessment of work of the government and the individual ministers will be done by voters in the elections. I have lots of reservations in this sense and I presented them here, as well. Those reservations are in some cases valid in other cases are rather intuitive and in some cases they are connected with unfinished work of those who were here before us. In this respect, we entered really complicated environment and in my opinion, the Ministry of Interior experienced the greatest change.

TV Prima: I have one more question; an inspection at the Ministry of Health is ahead of you. Are you content with the performance of Mr. Minister Julínek?

Mirek Topolánek, Prime Minister of the Czech Republic: I should say that Tomáš Julínek is a very good minister, and he is a man whom I believe; I believe him to be able to gradually implement those visions which he was preparing for five years. It would be very sad for citizens of this country if he failed.

Jana Bartošová, Government spokesperson: Thank you, is there any further question? So, thank you and we will be seeing you next week at

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