Press Conferences

28. 2. 2007 10:27

Press Conference of Czech Prime Minister Mirek Topolánek after Cabinet Meeting Held on 28 February 2007

Martin Schmarcz, Head, PR Department, Government Office: Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen, welcome to a press conference after today's Cabinet Meeting. I welcome Deputy Prime Minister, Mr Jiří Čunek, and Deputy Prime Ministers Messrs Martin Bursík and Alexandr Vondra. I surrender the floor to First Deputy Prime Minister Jiří Čunek who will inform you about the results of the Cabinet Meeting.

Jiří Čunek, 1st Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Regional Development: Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen, I presume you all have the agenda of the Cabinet Meeting; I would ask Deputy Prime Minister Sasha Vondra to inform about the European agenda that preceded the Cabinet Meeting - a separate chapter not included in the agenda and dealt with by Cabinet members.

Alexandr Vondra, Deputy Prime Minister of the Czech Government in charge of European issues: Good afternoon. We started in the morning by a second ever meeting of the Committee for EU at the governmental level as established in last fall. Naturally, we discussed the mandate to be entrusted to the Prime Minister for the summit to be held on 8 and 9 March in Brussels. We shall have to return to this issue next Wednesday - not because we are unable to agree between us here, but because the German Presidency continues to deal with the matter. We shall also discuss it at the Monday meeting of the Council for General Issues. Two materials that the Committee for EU has approved are in my opinion worth mentioning. The first concerns exclusively the coming presidency of the Czech Republic in 2009; we have approved not the priorities of our 2009 Presidency, which would be clearly premature, but some starting points underlying such priorities. As we already informed some time ago, our preliminary idea is that the starting point of the aforementioned priorities would involve a thesis best expressed as Europe without Barriers. In conformity with this idea we believe that the top priority sui generis or the flagship of our contribution to the Czech Presidency that we would wish specifically to accentuate is a package of, say, support, competitiveness, fulfilment of the four freedoms and liberal trade policy, in other words, all issues that concern development of the Lisbon strategy, revised with regard to competitiveness. I believe this constitutes a challenge, both to us here and to Europe as a whole: improvements of the regulatory framework, deregulation of industrial policies, reduction of existing administrative burden, economic and social convergence and programmes devoted to structural change. We see these topics, a part of the priority comprising fulfilment of the four freedoms as a way how to follow through completion of a free, internal market encompassing all member states including the new ones, as our top priority. We have also approved other key priorities of the forthcoming Presidency, to wit: No. 2 - Sustainable and Safe Energy Industry; No. 3 - Review of the Budget and Reform of the CAP; No. 4 - Transatlantic Relations and Completion of EU Expansion to the Balkans and Eastern Europe in general; No. 5 - Expansion of the Area of Freedom, Safety and Rule of Law, i.e., today's pillar and, last but not least, Institutions and Their Reform, including election of the EC President. The Presidency will fall to the period when the campaign receding elections to the European Parliament will be in full swing, followed by the subsequent election of the European Commission and its President. That much about the aforementioned material. Kindly do not take it as something already carved in stone. All the above issues do not fall to our sole discretion and we shall consult intensively with the neighbouring presidencies - France's and Sweden's. Naturally, we must wait for the result of the elections in France and establishment of a new government there as well as or its own future priorities. We shall co-operate especially with Sweden where we perceive considerable affinity. Thus, the agenda will continue to change in conformity with developments affecting the above trio and the EU in its entirety. I shall mention the second material only briefly since future developments are envisaged. We have agreed that we wish to amend existing legislation concerning disposal of classified materials at the 'restricted access level' simply to enhance efficiency. We are of the opinion that existing rules based on the provisions of Act No. 412, those concerning disposal of materials and not screening persons, should be changed and harmonised with the practice now standard in the West, where higher liability is imposed on the persons handling the materials, since we are concerned that, without effecting such amendment, it would be extremely difficult to cope during our Presidency as the European Commission and the Council produce enormous amounts of materials classified as 'restricted access', and it would be practically impossible to handle them under the current highly restrictive rules governing disposal. Briefly speaking, we shall prepare an amendment to the Act concerned. Thank you for your attention.

Martin Schmarcz, Head, PR Department, Government Office: Thank you, Mr Deputy Prime Minister. Deputy Prime Minister Martin Bursík will now take the floor.

Martin Bursík, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of the Environment: Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. As a corollary to what Alexandr Vondra just said: not only classified information is concerned here: we have in our offices special telephones and if you press a button the telephone becomes "dead metal". At least that's what I was told when informed about the telephone. So far I have not used it at all and have no idea what "dead metal" actually means, but I mention it just to show the problems we encounter as members of the Cabinet. And now to an issue which is naturally more important than a mere phone. We have discussed an amendment to the Air Protection Act that deals with adding biofuel and with support extended to biofuel on the petrol and Diesel markets in the Czech Republic. There is a number of underlying incentives: The Cabinet wishes to reduce dependence on crude oil supplies, to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and the existing sinister and increasing trend in these emissions originating in transport, and to create opportunities for Czech farmers to focus not only on foodstuffs but on energy-related produce. We also wish to induce in car drivers a gradually rising feeling that the proportion of biofuel increases and, accordingly, their contribution to global climatic change declines. To specify in more detail: we conducted intensive negotiations among four departments: Ministry of Agriculture, Ministry of Industry and Trade, Ministry of Finance and Ministry of the Environment, and managed to agree on a variant subsequently approved by the Cabinet. The essence is that all subjects marketing petrol and Diesel oil will be obliged to ensure that a given proportion - 2 % in 2008, 3.5 % in 2009 - is replaced by biofuel: bio ethanol in case of petrol and rapeseed oil methyl ester in case of Diesel oil. We have explicitly required the obligation separately for petrol and for Diesel oil, since we decided finally to get rid of the approach practised by the previous governments, which lurched from side to side, up and down, once supporting the methyl ester, once bio ethanol. We wish that all biofuel types, including second-generation biofuels and high-percentage biofuel, find application on the Czech market and support establishment of a biofuel market accompanied with an alternative fuel market as well. We have grappled with the problem of control - how to prevent cheating of which we have bad experience. We have found important inspiration in German legislation during our visit to the German Ministry of the Environment. As a result, controlling authority will be newly entrusted to customs officials and will be subject to the regime of the Taxes and Charges Administration Act. Checks will take place in customs warehouses and not at individual filling stations. The Cabinet's attitude to sanctions is also important. Instead of very high fines only a formal fine of 2 million CZK would be levied for a failure to keep proper records. And there will be an economic incentive as well. We definitely prefer economic tools to bans and orders and cornering businessmen. The essence of the incentive consists in that if an obligee fails to meet the above proportion of biofuel in the annual balance, a fine equal to CZK 75 - about three times the market price of the biofuel including mixing - will be levied for each missing litre of biofuel. In our opinion this will be an instrument sufficient to induce suppliers to comply. The effective date of the Act will be 1 January 2008; this entails several tasks for some selected members of the Cabinet, the first of them until the end of May. The ministries of finance, industry and trade, agriculture and the environment will propose to the Cabinet a method of control (i.e., specify in more detail the above control mechanisms). The Ministry of Industry and Trade as the appointed sponsor, in co-operation with a number of other departments, will prepare a long-term programme for additional application of biofuel in transport, since the present amendment is not an end but rather a beginning. We must create an environment conducive to application of high-percentage biofuel, whose recognition on the market will require also economic tools. The deadline here is 31 December 2007 and the minister of industry promised to exercise all efforts to curtail the deadline substantially. I am pleased that we have managed to reach an agreement that broad between several departments, that the submitted material was approved without much

Martin Schmarcz, Head, PR Department, Government Office: I wish to ask Deputy Prime Minister Jiří Čunek whether he has anything important to add.

Jiří Čunek, 1st Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Regional Development: Perhaps a comment on the subsequent items of the agenda. I shall not dwell on all items discussed, since the meeting lasted rather long, several items were interrupted or suspended to be subsequently supplemented. Perhaps only an item of some interest - a proposed method how to deal with legally defective deliveries from the residual portfolio of the Czech Consolidation Agency. The cabinet agreed with a solution submitted by the Minister of Finance: a limited liability company will be established subject to a tender. In other words, the entire company and not individual claims will be offered for sale. In this manner the Cabinet intends to deal with all risks that might pass to the state from these claims. We are confident that the CCA will be indeed dissolved this year in compliance with the decision adopted by the Parliament and no "skeletons" will remain for the Cabinet to deal with. Another issue of considerable importance for the Czech Republic comprises submission to the European Commission and approval of the National Strategic Reference Framework and, simultaneously, of operating programmes. As you are no doubt aware, we are obliged to submit this National Strategic Reference Framework by Tuesday, 6 March. We have simultaneously submitted or will submit the IOPS - Integrated Operating Programme. The Cabinet previously dealt with both these documents and today discussed and approved them. Another material is a document whereby I inform about implementation of the concept of information about European matters. These include communication priorities of the Cabinet in conformity with our previous commitments. They comprise the European Centres established in all regional capitals and we take part in their operation. The government provides funds and the regions, potentially also other subjects, are expected to co-operate. This completes the items we wished to inform about; now your question, ladies and gentlemen.

Martin Schmarcz, Head, PR Department, Government Office: Thank you. I wish to add that, naturally, the agenda of the Cabinet meeting and the results will be available from Mrs Júdtová after the press conference and will be distributed and posted on our web pages as well. Now for your questions. Ladies and gentlemen, first your questions concerning the agenda of the Cabinet meeting. We shall answer any other questions thereafter. Are there any questions to today's Cabinet meeting? No? If not, let me open discussion to other issues. The Czech TV and TV Prima were the first - let's give preference to the lady: TV Prima first, then Czech TV, Czech News Agency, and Swedish TV.

Helena Šulcová, TV Prima: Good afternoon. I have several questions to Mr Čunek. Deputy Premier Čunek, the public prosecutor disallowed your complaint against the charges brought against you. Are you already acquainted with it and have you reached any conclusions? That's my first question, but I have other questions as well.

Jiří Čunek, 1st Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Regional Development: I can only state that the information reached me today, this morning. Presumably I shall receive the corresponding written decision by mail.

Helena Šulcová, TV Prima: Will you draw any conclusions?

Jiří Čunek, 1st Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Regional Development: I intend to discuss the matter with my lawyer. It seems the public prosecutor is of the opinion that the issue is not clear and should be investigated. Now, having submitted a host of documents and underlying materials, to be further supplemented, I do not see any problem here.

Helena Šulcová, TV Prima: Will a meeting of top representatives of your party be convened to deal with the issue? Shall we presume that you remain both chairman of the Christian Democratic Party and a member of this Cabinet?

Jiří Čunek, 1st Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Regional Development: Sure, but the case will be dealt with by the police and the public prosecutor. The party will certainly deal with the problem at its meeting where I shall provide information. In fact I inform my colleagues regularly; this will thus be another, additional information to be discussed.

Helena Šulcová, TV Prima: I wish to direct one other question to all gentlemen: Václav Klaus informed today that he intends to make another bid for the presidency. It would be interesting to know whether he is an acceptable presidential candidate for the Christian Democratic Party, for the Green Party and also the opinion of Mr Vondra.

Jiří Čunek, 1st Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Regional Development: Speaking for myself and on behalf of the Christian Democratic Party I wish to state I welcome that we already have a presidential candidate. Naturally, no candidate has been as yet nominated by the Christian Democratic Party as the party has not reached any conclusion in the matter. That is all.

Martin Bursík, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of the Environment: Václav Klaus is not a presidential candidate of the Green Party. He not only lives in a world of other values but - according to the last interview he gave to Hospodářské noviny - he lives in another world altogether since he sees things different from those we see. Accordingly, we shall strive to present our own candidate or to agree with other political parties on some other presidential candidate.

Alexandr Vondra, Deputy Prime Minister of the Czech Government in charge of European issues: The civic democrats as a party have not adopted any resolution concerning this issue save for the regional assembly Ústí nad Labem, where representatives - including myself - already voted in favour of a preliminary resolution. But yes, Václav Klaus is a presidential candidate and I am confident that the civic democrats will not repeat the errors made by the social democrats and will rally round Václav Klaus.

Martin Schmarcz, Head, PR Department, Government Office: Czech TV, your questions please.

Daniel Takáč, Czech TV: Good afternoon, I wish to resume the previous issue and ask Mr Čunek whether the Christian democrats would rather consider Václav Klaus as their presidential candidate or seek another, in their opinion more suitable candidate. And then I wish to go back to the charge brought against you.

Jiří Čunek, 1st Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Regional Development: I will divide the issue. With regard to Václav Klaus, I can only state my personal opinion since our party has not yet reached any conclusion in this matter, and I would say that the disapproving attitude the party previously entertained has gradually abated, perhaps as a result of some decisions that most members and the party identify with. That is one point. But the discussion about a potential own candidate is still in progress.

Daniel Takáč, Czech TV: And now a question to the charge. You said that once a decision concerning your complaint is reached you would discuss the matter with your coalition partners. Are you going to discuss it with them and what are you going to propose? Are you going to propose your resignation from your government posts? And I would appreciate Mr Bursík's comments on this matter, specifically whether he perceives as a problem the fact that a prosecuted individual is a deputy prime minister in a coalition cabinet, or whether he intends to invite Mr Čunek to resign from his government post. Thank you.

Jiří Čunek, 1st Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Regional Development: Your statement is accurate. I said I shall discuss the matter and, after the internal discussion, I shall definitely discuss it with our coalition partners.

Daniel Takáč, Czech TV: My question was whether you will offer your resignation. Will you put up this to your coalition partners? Are you ready to do it?

Jiří Čunek, 1st Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Regional Development: At present I certainly do not intend to do it. The reason is simple. I am confident that I had not committed the acts of which I was accused and I was invited by senators, last time only yesterday, not to do any such thing, that they did not convey me to resign from my post but to prove my innocence. And I am confident I shall do just that.

Martin Bursík, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of the Environment: Mr Takáč, the answer to your question whether it is or is not a problem is clearly affirmative. If there were no problem you would not ask such question at a press conference. That's clear then. But I do not intend to invite my colleague Mr Čunek to resign from the government as you implied. In my opinion it is an issue to be decided by Mr Čunek and, once Deputy Prime Minister Čunek considers it appropriate to discuss the matter, bilaterally or at the level of the three coalition partners, we shall be ready to start such discussion.

Daniel Takáč, Czech TV: One supplementary question aimed at all three ministers. Is it not so that the issue reduces credibility of the government?

Alexandr Vondra, Deputy Prime Minister of the Czech Government in charge of European issues: I am confident that the issue does not reduce credibility of the government, which is reinforced by its activities. Look for example at today's agreement concerning air protection that defines the way in which biofuels will be used in the future. Considering how much hot air there was in this connection over the last several years, including various investigations that should have been initiated and, primarily, brought to a conclusion but were not, I do not think that this matter could reduce credibility of the government since the government operates and its activity has not been affected in any way.

Martin Schmarcz, Head, PR Department, Government Office: Deputy Prime Minister Čunek might find answering the question rather difficult - I wonder if the question is appropriate at all. I see that he is ready to answer.

Jiří Čunek, 1st Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Regional Development: If I believed, because I am a member of the cabinet and pull for it not just because of that and, once I decided in favour of it, to enter the government as an individual and as a political party, I want to do everything to ensure its success. And believe me, and you must know it yourselves, and I believe we shall see it in the coming weeks and months, that decisions to be adopted will be often very hard. Primarily because we must make reforms in such a manner that the deficit, which we could perhaps have and which is approaching and is not caused by us splashing money about but by existing laws, primarily laws affecting welfare, which somewhat generate additional state expenditures, mandatory expenditures, and if we reckoned with a deficit of up to 100 billion CZK in 2007 then, considering all mandatory expenditures envisaged, the result could be much higher in 2007, perhaps as high as 150 billion, and we must therefore adopt preventive measures. Thus, I believe that this issue, definitely not easy for me personally, just because I do not wish to complicate matters for my colleagues, complicate their decisions, this issue, as you all know and are aware of its genesis, is from my point of view somehow purposeful, faked, I do not wish to comment on it any further, simply it never actually took place and it could happen to anybody, also anybody of you, that some person submits an anonymous complaint and it will be investigated, if there are some ambiguities then it must be investigated. For this reason I am convinced that it will turn out well, although it may last several weeks, and that the government including myself will work normally. I handed the matter to a law firm and now it occupies me only marginally.

Martin Bursík, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of the Environment: I wish my colleague and the government a successful outcome. And in my opinion it does not reduce credibility of the government at present, although is does not enhance it either, as we all know.

Martin Schmarcz, Head, PR Department, Government Office: Other questions, please. Yes, the Swedish TV.

Editor, SVT - Swedish TV: I have a question on behalf of Mr Fredriksson and will ask it in Czech so as not to complicate matters. The question concerns the gripen affair. Could the government comment on that? React to it somehow, or say if it would adopt any measures and what could its future measures in this area be?

Jiří Čunek, 1st Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Regional Development: Today the Cabinet did not deal with the issue at all as it clearly falls in the province of investigating, prosecuting and adjudicating authorities, perhaps also is a matter for the Swedish and British governments, simply speaking, for all mentioned in the media in any way as interested parties. This Cabinet did not deal with the issue today and, I believe, not even the former Cabinet in the past. The affair has existed for about one week and no, the Cabinet did not deal with it today.

Editor, SVT – Swedish television: The question on behalf of Mr Fredriksson because I will say it in Czech not to complicate it. It relates to the Gripen´s case. Has the Cabinet anything to say to this? Some reaction and/or some actions, which measures will be taken in this area?

Jiří Čunek, 1st Vice-Chairman of the Government of the ČR and the Minister for Regional Development : The Government has not discussed this case today at all, it is, in particular, the business of the organs active in criminal proceedings and/or also the matter of the Swedish Government and/or of the British Government. Shortly, of all those who were somehow labelled in the media as the parties interested in this case. But the Government has not dealt with this question neither today nor in the past, I am talking about the previous Government. This case is approximately one week old so that the Government has not discussed it.

Editor, SVT – Swedish television : Is the Government going to take some action in this case?

Jiří Čunek, 1st Vice-Chairman of the Government of the ČR and the Minister for Regional Development : I suppose that if some other serious circumstances do not occur the Government is not going to express its opinion on that. But I stress if some other serious circumstances do not occur. There exists the Programme Declaration of the Government containing, i.a., clear obligation to continue in conducting anti-corruption programme and I am convinced that the Government will respect this obligation, however, at this moment we do not find any reason to discuss this issue right now.

Martin Schmarcz, the Director of the Department of the Office of the Government : Does anybody wish to complete it? I would complete it only by the information that in view of the fact that criminal procedure is under way in this case then this Government, which is against corruption, considers it absolutely improper to be politically involved in the case. Mladá Fronta Dnes, please.

Josef Kopecký, MfD: I would like to ask the three members of the Government who are here if at least some of you have any doubts concerning the appropach of the Vice-Chairman Mr Čunek to this case and if we are somehow not exceeding the standard common in other democratic countries where the rule is that if a politician is suspect of such a serious suspicion he normally leaves the political scene for some time and when he clarifies himself he returns to the politics. Don´t you three of you think or have you not a slightest shadow of doubt that this would be the correct practice? Thank you.

Martin Schmarcz, the Director of the Department of the Office of the Government : I will ask you if this question is addressed to all three or to two of the gentlement present here? Is it addressed also to Mr Čunek?

Josef Kopecký, MfD: Also to Mr Čunek if he has not a slightest shadow of doubt.

Jiří Čunek, 1st Vice-Chairman of the Government of the ČR and the Minister for Regional Development : I will answer the question as the first one. I have not any doubt at all because I, contrary to the gentlement present here who are in a very difficult position because they are my colleagues and just like myself were not present at any handover. But it is not their business only mine. We, neither of us three, were present there. Nevertheless, I was labelled that I was somewhere where I should have allegedly taken over some parcel in a very special manner. The problem, however, lies in the fact that for me personally and perhaps this was the reason why my colleagues senators call on me not to give up and not to resign to my positions that in this country many investigations last very long time. I do not want to offend anybody. If I noticed it well the investigation of Stanislav Gross is over and now the question is if he should return to the position of the chairman of a political party or some other position. I do not know that and I offer this only as an example of myself that this situation may last for a pretty long time and then some other similar anonymous denunciation may appear concerning somebody else and not only the whole Government would be dismantled by that but maybe even the Parliament. That is all I can say to that.

Martin Schmarcz, the Director of the Department of the Office of the Government: Who wants to be the first?

Alexandr Vondra, Vice-Chairman of the Government of the ČR for European Affairs: I am the Senator and therefore the same question which you asked I had to ask myself too. I followed it in a civic way, at the same time I am not the expert in this sphere and had neither the time nor the chance to familiarize myself with all that in depth. Personally I must admit that when I made my observations in a civic way as the Senator I really had certain slightest shadows of doubt and I must say that doubts in all directions and from all information which I could gather from my colleagues senators who had more time to deal with it I arrived at the conclusion during voting. I voted against extradition and I do not feel that I should take here any other categorical conclusions in this matter. Also it is a fresh information and I learned about it during today´s meeting of the Government. We were engaged in other issues and I do not feel that I should make here any strong declaration.

Martin Bursík, Vice-Chairman of the Government of the ČR and the Minister of Environment : I will join in it. It was a smart question to identify in ourselves shadows of doubt. Quite naturally, this is the issue of a precedent and, naturally, everybody asks himself a question of the presumption of guilt or presumption of innocence of a politician. And the problem we are confronted with is the fact that in the moment the politician decides to make that step if the charge is raised against him then it is crystal clear that he can never return to the politics. And that the formulation of the condition that in the moment when he cleans himself he can return back we all know that the events cannot meet at the same time. And it is given by the quickness of the work of the Police and the quickness of the work of courts. We realise this aspect. I think that this is the aspect which is new and we will certainly discuss the issues in detail with the Vice-Chairman of the Government Čunek. And I think that this time-factor in this issues is crucial both for the Government and Mr Vice-Chairman. In other words, to release clear statement on this issue the day this decision was taken is really premature. And I myself must form a picture of time table of further steps expected and judge the issue accordingly. I only repeat that I very much wish that this matter has a happy end both for the Vice-Chairman of the Government Čunek and for the Government as such.

Martin Schmarcz, the Director of the Department of the Office of the Government: Právo, please.

Jitka Götzová, the Daily Právo: Good day! The Vice-Chairman of the Government Mr Čunek. You used the analogy with Stanislav Gross, however, he was not accused and this is quite another difference than yours. Don´t you feel that it is slightly different. Thank you.

Jiří Čunek, 1st Vice-Chairman of the Government of the ČR and the Minister for Regional Development

Martin Schmarcz, the Director of the Department of the Office of the Government: I would like to add that this case was in fact quite different because Premier Gross could not answer questions of the general public and I think this is what we are discussing here right now. This is slightly different case. Any more questions? But if you want to ask questions, please, do not let those questions turn around in a circle. I think that the gentlement try to answer, however, these questions pivot still around the same – if they feel responsibility and if they considered it carefully. Yes, they feel responsibility, they considered it carefully, and consider also the question of time. During half an hour or an hour during which we discuss it we cannot probably get their final response now. Television Prima.

Helena Šulcová, television Prima: This time I would like to ask something else though also the Vice-Chairman Mr Čunek. The owners of ski tows complain that the winter was very bad and request interest-free loan from the State. I would like to know whether the State is able to give them such a loan and when?

Jiří Čunek, 1st Vice-Chairman of the Government of the ČR and the Minister for Regional Development : Definitely, the State is capable of it because the loan would be used in principle for bridging this one year only. However, the problem lies in something different, and it is not money. On the one hand we can see that those who were cheated by the last winter when in ČR everywhere was one meter of snow on average and many started activities or continued in them and thus fulfilled in principle this plan and task to restructure parts of those rural and mountain parts of our country by bringing tourist industry there. They offer new working occasions to people. Unfortunately, they are others who in principle do the same in summer and they write me too. And they are owners of swimming pools etc. Believe me that those letters are sometimes written in slightly ironically, sometimes in a funny way but the problem lies not in a decision if the Government or my Ministry should create a fund or raise some money for the assistance when I would feel that the demand might be particullary justified because we could help to develop this market but on the other hand we very seriously consider if we could not start to turn around in a vicious circle by this because the summer might be very rainy so that we will support summer swimming pools. And this is not an irony on my side. And so on and so on. Moreover, operators of ski tows themselves came saying that they do not ask anything and will ask nothing. We rather think if it will be the right decision for the future or not. And we did not conclude it yet, leave us some time, please. I learned about this letter not until recently.

Martin Schmarcz, the Director of the Department of the Office of the Government:Vice-Premier Bursík has someting to add.

Martin Bursík, Vice-Chairman of the Government of the ČR and the Minister for Environment : with your permission Bursík in reaction to demonstrations of global climatic changes as diminution of icebergs and reduction of the duration of winter got himself skialpinic equipment. This allows you for flexibility, sealskin belts are not made of seal – I stress that for conservationists – but they are made of some artificial mohair. You can climb unbelievable slopes with the help of it, I tested it out last Saturday in Giant´s Mine in the Giant Mountains. It is a kind of soft solution because I already have read articles in the press entitled „Do not teach your children to ski“; so this is one of potential solutions how to react to demonstrations of global climatic changes.

Martin Schmarcz, the Director of the Department of the Office of the Government: Thank you, Mr Vice-Premier.

Alexandr Vondra, Vice-Chairman of the Government of the ČR for European Affairs: If I can talk on our behalf. Greens are creative. I think that we should probably be consistent in this discussion and that we might have problem to support some similar non-standard measure; in any case I suppose that a very difficult discussion could be expected around this problem and I cannot imagine just now that we would endorse anything like that quite easily. This winter is no catastrophy like hurricane, millenium floods or similar where, quite naturally, the State and the Government offers helping hand. But everybody engaged in this area of entrepreneurship must calculate with certain extent of risk.

Jiří Čunek, 1st Vice-Chairman of the Government of the ČR and the Minister for Regional Development : Here I would like to add that after that hurricane I received the letter written by some inhabitant of Southern Bohemia containing a plan and contemporary photo where in those forests, then belonging to Schwarzenbergs, were sort of greater damages. And he wrote – nobody received anything neither. Perhaps he belonged to those who are not happy that we help municipalities stricken by that hurricane. But my colleague is right, it rather looks like that we shall choose that „non-assistance“ although we still discuss it. Of course, I try to help them by negotiating with banks trying to persuade them to offer some relieves. Obviously, it is primarily a market problem.

Martin Schmarcz, the Director of the Department of the Office of the Government: Ladies and gentlemen, if you have some other questions, please, ask them because the Members of the Government, according to our agreement, will not answer any questions after the press conference is over. Which I remind you. TV Nova and then Hospodářské noviny, please.

Martina Lhotáková, television Nova: I would like to ask Mr Vice-Premier Vondra about the introduction of euro, which deadline is acceptable for them. The Ministry of Finance mentioned the deadline of 2012, Minister Nečas disputes that and says that we should not declare any unrealistic deadlines which cannot be met. How do you see that? Thank you.

Alexandr Vondra, Vice-Chairman of the Government of the ČR for European Affairs: The Government has not yet dealt with this question. We assume that such a first discussion will take place sometimes during this Spring because the national co-ordination group had some discussion and prepared a national plan for introduction of euro which will be submitted to the Government for discussion. You probably know that this document contains no specific date. I do not think that the Government will determine some specific date for this Spring, however, this debate will take place and I think that it is important to have at least approximate degree of certainty over reform programme of this Government and that we shall succeed in its enforcement in order to be able to return back to the trajectory of the convergency programme. The worst thing of all which could happen to us would be determination of some fixed date again and then after a year or two we would give up that date again. This is a method or a road which we should not try. On the other hand I do not think that from the programme point of view this deadline should be postponed indefinetely. Thus, my personal opinion is that it could be done sometimes in 2012, 2013 and I have already made my point in this respect. Nevertheless, take it as my pesrsonal viewpoint because discussion on that theme is still ahead of us and there exists absolutely no reason, until we shall have the new convergency programme endorsed and until we have, at least at the executive level, reforms discussed in detail, which must stabilize public finances, State budgets in particular, as one of the basic criteria, then until that time it is of no use to determine any definite deadline.

Martin Schmarcz, the Director of the Department of the Office of the Government: Mr Vice-Premier Bursík will complete it shortly.

Martin Bursík, Vice-Chairman of the Government of the ČR and the Minister for Environment : Deuce. We shall first see in what extent we shall succeed in implementing reforms, first. Second, this decision is not dominantly political one, it is predominantly economic decision where economic analysts must prevail who will consider the moment when advantages of euro introduction will prevail over disadvantages. And this will be that moment. Therefore, to answer in 2007 the question if it will be in 2011 or in 2012 or 2013 is a political matter and attempt to make a political matter out of this purely rational topic; we want to approach this problem materially. At this moment there is no answer to this question in fact.

Martin Schmarcz, the Director of the Department of the Office of the Government: Hospodářské noviny, please.

Robert Břešťan, HN: Good day. You surely notice yesterday´s statements of Martin Říman that limits for coal mining are not legally binding and that it is possible that the Government will again discuss possibility to break those limits in coal mines Bílina. Therefore, a question perhaps to all members if the Government really wants to discuss this issue and to Mr Bursík, in particular, if he does not feel that his coalition partners will somehow force him to make a choice between nuclear energy and breakage of limits.

Martin Bursík, Vice-Chairman of the Government of the ČR and the Minister for Environment : We have already made our choice, neither breakage of limits nor nuclear energy during this term of office of this Government as it is in the Programme Declaration and nobody wants to rewrite the Programme Declaration. This cannot be done with the Government. We can, of course, lead some discussion to that theme, we are wide opened and this is the standpoint of Minister Říman. I have had yet no possibility to talk to him on this but one thing is certain : the resolution of the Cabinet is the resolution of the Cabinet and this resolution has legal force. The Programme Declaration declares that the Government will preserve territorial-ecological limits and it is more or less all what I can say to that as the member of the Government.

Jiří Čunek, 1st Vice-Chairman of the Government of the ČR and the Minister for Regional Development: there exists no breakage of limits in the KDU-ČSL Programme, I would rather say, at this moment, that those limits should not be broken. Therefore, in principle, concerning the limits, any member of the Government can bring anything on the table, however, it does not mean that even if the Minister comes with this material that we shall rewrite the Programme Declaration; we shall discuss it but no such signal has been noticed so far.

Alexandr Vondra, Vice-Chairman of the Government of the ČR for European Affairs:: One thing is the Programme Declaration what we respect and we stand for it as the Government. Then, of course, we can have our own expert viewpoints. For example, my opinion on the nuclear energy is more released, I think that undoubtedly the discussion on that theme still awaits us in the future but now we have the Programme Declaration which we respect and do not change.

Martin Schmarcz, the Director of the Department of the Office of the Government: Radiožurnál, please.

Veronika Hankusová, Radiožurnál: I would like once more to return to that Gripen case. I would like to know, I would like to ask all three gentlemen what do they think about this issue in the light of yesterday´s appearance of Mr Kavan. And if there exists any chance to resolve this problem with the help of Parliamentary enquiry commission demanded by ČSSD?

Martin Schmarcz, the Director of the Department of the Office of the Government: We should probably start in the sequence 1st Vice-Chairman, then Vice-Chairman Bursík and then Vice-Chairman Vondra, to exclude misunderstandings who will answer the first.

Jiří Čunek, 1st Vice-Chairman of the Government of the ČR and the Minister for Regional Development : Yes, you did not help me much. However, I thank you for giving me the floor.

Martin Schmarcz, the Director of the Department of the Office of the Government: I could express my own opinion but it would not have the appropriate value from me. Unfortunately.

Jiří Čunek, 1st Vice-Chairman of the Government of the ČR and the Minister for Regional Development: I can only say that I heard some statement of Kavan today in Radiožurnál. This statement made the whole case even more complicated for me because he, in principle, admitted that he got caught, therefore I do not think that it is necessary to establish some new Parliamentary enquiry commission. I have my own opinion on different Parliamentary commissions and their formation because I am convinced, with all the respect to legislators, I think individual MPs, without doubting their expertise, but the Parliament, MPs and commission have no instruments to declare anything else than a political judgement. And I think that it does not pertain here.

Martin Bursík, Vice-Chairman of the Government of the ČR and the Minister for Environment: The Green Party, at times when decisions were taken concerning if Grippens or some other birds protecting us would fly here, was still in political oblivion. I do not, of course, want to escape responsibility to answer your question by that. But this really is not any theme for the Government, we have nothing to add to this. This is the issue belonging to the history and if there are some suspicions expressed by Mr Kavan, he took them back again. This case belong to investigators and specialists who are engaged in corruption, not the members of the Government or the Government as a whole. Period.

Alexandr Vondra, Vice-Chairman of the Government of the ČR for European Affairs: I had a well-known critical approach at times when Gripens were discussed and enforced here. My standpoint at that time was that it was not necessary to spend enormous sums of money for new aircrafts. Given that we might have recognized then that we needed interceptors, and my position then was that we needed them, the far better solution would have been to obtain some cheaper older machines which would be negotiated at the level Government – Government – and therefore no negotiations with those firms would be necessary. After all, we all remember well that all other tenderers withdrew from the original tender and I could feel that personally because I worked then in diplomatic services, and I remember those complaints concerning the method of this tender and how it was lead. Therefore I am not surprised today that it is again discussed in connection with the programme of Swedish TV. I am not shocked, however, at the same time I think that is really an instigation for the organs active in criminal proceedings to act. It is probably good to realize that those are the things that can be proven with certain difficulties but it should not be the reason not to act in this case. I am of the opinion that it should be investigated and that it cannot be left as it is now.

Martin Schmarcz, the Director of the Department of the Office of the Government:: When the question concerning the programme of Swedish TV was asked I would have two comments on that on behalf of the Premier. One is statistical and the other factual. First, the ODS at that time was in opposition, and the second, no MP and senator for ODS has ever voted for Gripens what is a clear answer to what could be heard during this programme relating to lobbying of representatives of ODS. Are there any more questions? If not, I thank you for your attention.

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