Press Conferences

23. 7. 2008 14:42

Press Conference of the Prime Minister M. Topolánek and the Secretary General of the ESA J Dordain, Held on 8th July 2008

Press Conference after signing the Agreement on the Accession of the Czech Republic to the ESA

Jana Bartošová, Government spokesperson: Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen, let me welcome you on the occasion of signing the Agreement on the Accession of the Czech Republic to the European Space Agency. The Agreement is being signed by the Prime Minister of the Czech Republic, Mr. Mirek Topolánek, and the Secretary General of the European Space Agency, Mr. Jean-Jacque Dordain.

Let me welcome the Secretary General of the European Space Agency, Mr. Jean-Jacque Dordain and the Prime Minister of the Czech Republic, Mr. Mirek Topolánek, whom I give the floor.

Mirek Topolánek, Prime Minister of the Czech Republic: I am tempted to begin the press conference after signing the agreement between the Czech Republic and the ESA and to say that it is a day of star wars. But as we want to deal especially with peace activities, it would not be very fitting. Nevertheless, there is certain connection between the agreement of the anti-missile defence and the agreement on our membership in the European Space Agency, both of which were signed today. Through its full membership in the European Space Agency, the Czech Republic ranks among leading countries of this sphere. The fact that the volume of scientific and research activities in this sphere has significantly grown since 2005, led us, among the other reason, to applying for full membership in the European Space Agency. As the first country of the former eastern block, we rank among the other members and we want, based on the geographical principle, to be fully engaged in the European Space Agency. We are of the opinion that the Czech Republic cannot endure with attributes which it have had since 1990´; it means that it has offered cheap manpower and high-skilled workers. We will have chances in the future on condition we add value to current research activities, to create scientific and research potential and thus to rank among countries with the highest innovation potential. Therefore we, as the government, support range of spheres, the space research, the aeronautical research as the most sophisticated spheres at all, because they could uplift the Czech Republic among countries with significant innovation potential and accelerated innovation cycle. Therefore we support the Galileo Project, therefore we support the placement of the agency of the Galileo Project in Prague, therefore we asked for accession to the ESA. I am very pleased that on the day of the star peace, or how to call it, I can welcome today the representative of the ESA in Prague and to sign this agreement with him. Thank you for that.

Jana Bartošová, Government spokesperson: Now the Secretary General of the European Space Agency, Mr. Jean-Jacque Dordain has the floor.

Jean-Jacques Dordain, Secretary General of the ESA: Mr. Prime Minister, ministers, dear colleagues, it is a very important day and moment for the ESA. The Czech Republic is not only the eighteenth member of the ESA, this day also means opening of a new cycle of the space research in the framework of the European initiative ESA, because the first new member state of the EU becomes a member of the ESA, and I think that the other states will follow this example. But you are really the first one. The ESA becomes stronger and it is also closer to people and thus it plays its role in the world. I am of the opinion that it is like this thanks to your personal commitment, commitment of your government; I still remember that you visited the seat of the ESA on 8th October and were lobbying for acceleration of the accession procedure to the ESA. Next time, when you visit the seat of the ESA, you will not be mere visitor; you will be a really full member, Mr. Prime Minister. You will always be warmly welcomed. You do not enter space of an unknown planet; the ESA is not unknown for the Czech Republic; as early as in 1996 were signed an agreement on cooperation. I can say that the Czech Republic knows well that terrain of the organization which is entering. You were also very active in the framework of various scientific and research programmes under the auspices of the ESA. Therefore I think that what has been said here about the research, development, innovations, development of industry – all that are really basic preconditions for accession to the ESA, because only with such base it is possible to fully participate in these activities. You are also the first state of those new member states which becomes a member of the ESA; but you are also the first which had the first astronaut of those countries, I mean Vladimír Remek. I think it is a very important step to a new organization, organization which associates nations, and it can show new member states that is really possible to use cultural resources and skills and that it can lead to success of the respective country. None of inhabitants of the EU can live nowadays without space and space research. Space is necessary for telecommunication, new technologies, environment, for ensuring security; it means that space research is absolutely indispensable for everyday life. Of course, there exist lots of comparisons, parallels between space and the EU. It is not easy to study and explore space as we as it is not easy to build the EU. Those technologies and approaches which are used in exploration of space and in building the EU are very complicated and sophisticated. Further parallel is that both Europe and space were born in the war and bring peace; but the most important aspect is the fact that both Europe and space are invisible in fact, they are not tangible; you can touch neither Europe nor space, even though they are real. I think that now we have a chance to cooperate jointly and to prove that space is something what is close to citizens. The ESA is much smaller than similar agencies in the USA, Russia or China, but we have proved that we can be leaders in certain aspects. For example, we constructed the biggest satellite for environment; we are also leaders in various commercial areas. We began to cooperate with telecommunication operators; nobody notice that, but Ariane 5 was launched yesterday together with two telecommunication satellites. I think we are reliable partners for that cooperation and I gave you a model of the transport module, which is a fantastic example of our leadership in certain spheres. It is a component of the space research, which its indivisible part and I thin we are able to play our role even though we are not the greatest space agency. We are really a global agency and I am convinced that with the contribution of the Czech Republic we will be able make further step ahead, and we will reach a new dimension in the development of the space programme in the framework of Europe. We welcome the Czech Republic as a very important partner and on 6th September we will be holding the Space Council and we will be debating very important issues; the Czech Republic will be involved in these debates for the first time as a member state of the ESA and in October we will organize a conference on space in Prague. There will be a conference of Parliaments of member states organized in November, then another event will be held, and then the Czech presidency will follow, and I am sure that the Czech Republic will be playing very important role and that it will enable the ESA to make further steps in its development. I am very glad we have managed to ensure full membership for the Czech Republic and I would like to thank all those who were engaged in it, and who have realized this dream Thank you.

Jana Bartošová, Government spokesperson: I thank Mr. Dordain and I also thank the Prime Minister of the Czech Republic. Now there is time for your questions.

A journalist: Mr. Prime Minister, you emphasized the membership in the ESA for enhancement of the innovation potential of the Czech Republic. I would like to ask which projects of the ESA are the most important in this respect for the Czech Republic. And a question to Mr. Dordain – what possibilities are opening? Have you finished the choice of the European astronaut? Is there a chance for a Czech astronaut, too? What are the prospects like?

Mirek Topolánek, Prime Minister of the Czech Republic: As I have mentioned in my brief speech, it concerns the Galileo Project in which we want to be engaged, and not only during the implementation but we would also like to welcome the European Global Navigation Satellite System Supervisory Authority to Prague. This is the project which will be started sometime in 2013, according to my presumption as we hope the decision will be made by 2009 or 2010. The project which is the most important now from the point of view of our participation in the ESA projects is the project which is being developed in Prague, in Letňany in the Aeronautical Research and Test Institute. Apparatuses for measuring extremely small accelerations for three satellites of the SWARM system are being produced there. It is one of the greatest projects of present times. Concurrently, some firms are developing systems for observational and navigation satellites. It is apparent that there is great interest especially in the field of the research and the implementation. The accession to the ESA was not only our initiative but it was achieved also thanks to a positive pressure of those who are engaged in this field. Therefore I hope that number of these activities will grow in the future and that is why we exerted pressure on our accession, so that we could enter the entire area far more significantly. That is all I can say about it now.

Jana Bartošová, Government spokesperson: Thank you, I ask Mr. Dordain for the answer.

Jean-Jacques Dordain, Secretary General of the ESA: As to my question, I should say that the European economy must be based on knowledge and the ESA and all the activities and projects of the ESA are aimed at the development of knowledge and I think we managed to achieve quite great progress in the sphere of the development of new technologies. As I have already said, space is very risky domain, but is concurrently the only possibility how to make progress. I think that it is our task to push the technology ahead through knowledge. As to your question concerning the astronaut and the entire process of the choice of candidates, the process was started in time when the Czech Republic was not a member state of the ESA. There were only 17 member states there and as it has been said, we are searching for four candidates, and I think I can reflect on it during the weekend, and to include Czechs in the selection procedure. The process has only started and so there is space for candidates from the Czech Republic there. As I have already said, the Czech Republic gave the world the first European astronaut and I think we could use this tradition if there are some Czech candidates here. I myself will stand up for taking it into consideration.

Mirek Topolánek, Prime Minister of the Czech Republic: I just add to it that great number of fields is connected with the space research and these fields have long tradition even though it does not look like at the first sight; for example material science and research in this field, the research in the field of nanotechnologies, and other fields. I think we can complement these fields with some new potential ones. The scope of activities, which are used nowadays in astronautics and in the space research, ranges from satellite systems up to biotechnologies, nanotechnologies and material science. We have a lot of thing to offer even nowadays.

Jana Bartošová, Government spokesperson: The last question, please.

Journalist Tuček, One small question to the Prime Minister or to the Czech side. Will you offer a Czech astronaut? Thank you.

Mirek Topolánek, Prime Minister of the Czech Republic: I would expect such a question rather from the side of tabloids. I do not regard it as our priority now. I do not think that the only one priority of ours after the accession to the ESA should be our own astronaut. Nevertheless, it would be nice; perhaps there is somebody here who is dreaming his child's dream. We will not prevent him from achieving that.

Jana Bartošová, Government spokesperson: I thank the Secretary General of the European Space Agency and you, ladies and gentlemen for your attention. Thank you. Good-bye

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