Press Conferences

26. 2. 2008 15:50

Press Conference of the Prime Minister Mirek Topolánek after the Meeting of the Government Held on 4th February 2008

Press Conference of the Prime Minister Mirek Topolánek after the Meeting of the Government Held on 4th February 2008

Jana Bartošová, government spokesperson: Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen, welcome to press conference after the meeting of the government. Allow me to welcome here members of the government: the Prime Minister, Mr. Mirek Topolánek, the Minister of Agriculture, Mr. Petr Gandalovič, the Minister of Justice, Mr. Jiří Pospíšil and the 1st Deputy Minister of Health, Mr. Marek Šnajdr. I ask the Prime Minister for his introductory speech.
Mirek Topolánek, Prime Minister of the Czech Republic: Good afternoon once more. Apart from the agenda about which you were informed in advance, we debated an issue, which would be presented by Petr Gandalovič. It concerned a deputies' amendment in fact and certain correction of a fault which had occurred and the Minister would explain it to you. I brought Jiří Pospíšil to this press conference because we had unanimously passed an essential amendment to the Act on Courts and Judges, which had been expected for a long time. I brought the Deputy Minister of Health, apart from other reasons, because we evaluated health insurance plans of health insurance companies for 2008 today. The other issues were not of such a conflicting character. We debated programme goals of the government. We agreed that we would still consider deletion of certain points, which were included there. We approved the transposition of a direction, the Bill amending the Act on Value Added Tax. Martin Bursík could have been here, as he had two issues on the agenda today, but both of them had been passed without problems. The first one concerned terms of trading with greenhouse gas emissions and that was a non-conflicting amendment. Džamila Stehlíková submitted the Bill amending the Act on Sign Language. We restricted the material support for creation of new jobs within investment incentives and we also discussed the Update of Finance Strategy of Implementation of Council Regulation on Urban Waste Water Treatment. That is a nice expression and Petr Gandalovič will certainly explain to you why the Update of Finance Strategy of Implementation was passed and what the objectives of that regulation are like. That is all, as to those issues which were considered in the course of the debate.
Jana Bartošová, government spokesperson: I thank the Prime Minister and now the Minister of Agriculture, Mr. Petr Gandalovič has the floor.
Petr Gandalovič, Minister of Agriculture: Ladies and gentlemen, the issue mentioned here by the Prime Minister was proposed by me and other deputies; it concerned the Act on Consumption Taxes. It was a correction of a legislative mistake, which had occurred in the course of debate on the package of legislative changes that were connected with adding of bio-fuels to oil and petrol. In particular it concerned adding of bio-fuels to oil, which was related to the return of consumption tax. It is sometimes called green oil for farmers. This opportunity is given to most of European farmers and it is necessary to amend the mistake so as not to deprive farmers of this advantage, because they would become uncompetitive as far as partners or competitors of other countries are concerned. Nevertheless, the government perceives this problem very critically and it would like to debate it in broader context. Certain clauses of the Act on Consumption Taxes were amended and thus the mistake occurred in the approving process of the law on addition bio-fuels was corrected. So, I am glad that the government, in spite of the fact that it does not like various exceptions, took a neutral stand to it and let the Chamber of Deputies to correct the mistake.
Mirek Topolánek, Prime Minister of the Czech Republic: Shall I remark on it?
Petr Gandalovič, Minister of Agriculture: No, I just asked whether to switch to the issue of waste water treatment. As you know, the Czech Republic on the accession to the EU undertook to ensure sufficient treatment of waste water by 2010 pursuant to the European Directive no. 91. As the deadline is drawing near, we are trying to help municipalities through subsidies, so that they could meet their commitments. We use not only national subsidies but also the European Programme for Environment Protection, so called operational programme. This material summarizes in fact the existing situation. It is possible to say that 328 out of 515 researched agglomerations (agglomerations means municipalities with more than 2000 inhabitants) have convenient sewage disposal plants, and 297 of them is connected to sewerage, which we regard as satisfactory. It is necessary to solve the situation in 123 agglomerations; in 64 of them there is neither sewerage nor a sewage disposal plant. In number of agglomerations such project has not been prepared so far, according to our research. I, together with Minister Bursík will write letters to representatives, mayors and regional commissioners of these regions to say that they could face serious problems in particular because of the Czech law and the Act on Water. The Czech Republic could face some problems because of the Directive no. 91 as well, and certain proceedings could be initiated, which we know from other cases. An important thing which is to be mentioned is that those last negotiations on acceptability of agreements on water supplies, which were led by Martin Bursík, significantly changed opportunities how the municipalities could apply for European financial means. It is necessary then to initiate negotiations with those water treatment subjects on solving the situation, for example reduction of contracts duration and such like. The material is quite extensive; nevertheless, its result is that most of Czech towns have the situation solved. Nevertheless, there is still amount of some 13 billion crowns, which is not covered, and I will have to negotiate on it with the Minister of Environment and to inform the government by the end of June. Thank you.
Jana Bartošová, government spokesperson: I thank the Minister of Agriculture and now the Minister of Justice, Mr. Jiří Pospíšil has the floor.
Jiří Pospíšil, Minister of Justice: Good afternoon once more, ladies and gentlemen, I will briefly give reasons for the amendment to the Act on Courts and Judges, which is one of key part of the Czech justice reform. The proposal had been developing for nearly one year and it is a result of a relatively shaky compromise and a discussion of representatives of political parties that have representation in the Chamber of Deputies, and representatives of justice. The objective was to change removal process of judges; it is a response to the judgement of the Constitutional Court, which, in the course of proceedings on the case of the President of the Supreme Court, annulled part the Act on Courts and Judges that concerned removals of judges. We want to cover this gap in the law with a new clause and we want judges to be removed in the future by a special judicial disciplinary panel, which will be established at the Supreme Administrative Court. It will have six members, half of them – three members - will be judges of the Supreme Administrative Court and the Supreme Court, and half of them will be lawyers, not judges. They will be nominated by the Bar, by the Chamber of Notaries, by executors or by the Minister of Justice. Thus a special disciplinary body will be established, which shall decide on profession misconduct of judges. This proposal tightens disciplinary responsibility of presidents of courts. It stipulates clear rules, responsibility of presidents of courts, and it gives the Minister of Justice, the President, the Ombudsman and the President of the Supreme Court to file an opportunity to a disciplinary action against a president of court to such a special judicial disciplinary panel. Ladies and gentlemen, if this amendment is passed, and I hope so, it will mean that one of problems of the Czech law will be removed; I mean the fact that judges cannot be removed so far, in fact. I would like to say that this is the first amendment to the Act on Courts and Judges in the framework of the justice reform. We are preparing the second one, which is to establish time-limited mandate for presidents of courts. This is the second step, which will follow the step number one. If we are successful in passing those amendments, we will approach to the state when the president of a court will be rather a manager responsible for managing his/her courts, and who will be also responsible for verdicts of judges at his/her court. So, the principle is that the president of a court is responsible for court's activities and the principle is based on the German model, which is very close to us and which is very effective. Thank you.
Jana Bartošová, government spokesperson: I thank the Minister of Justice and now the 1st Deputy Minister of Health, Mr. Marek Šnajdr, has the floor.
Marek Šnajdr, 1st Deputy Minister of Health: Thank you, good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen, my information will be very brief. The government dealt today with the evaluation of health insurance plans of the health insurance companies for 2008. I think it is positive news for all people that our health insurance companies will be as economically stable as they were in 2007. The health insurance companies expect that income will increase by approx. 8 billion crowns, up to 208 billion crowns. Expenditures, according to proposals of managing boards of the individual health insurance companies, will reach the amount of 206,2 billion crowns. It means that health insurance companies will show a small surplus amounted to 2 billion crowns. I regard as necessary to inform you on further facts related to this issue. The first one is, as you have certainly noticed, what the effect of the new legislation will be like; I mean on the one hand the introduction of health insurance payment limits, introduction of limits concerning beneficiaries whose health insurance is paid by the state and on the other hand extension of the range of incomes, from which the health insurance will be paid. It is clear that there will be no negative impacts on health insurance companies, and their incomes will grow. It is important to know that health insurance companies expect increase of their payments to hospitals and other health facilities annually by 8%, which is quite high increase. Let me also say that health insurance companies do not expect to have overdue liabilities, and in the area of incomes, health insurance companies expect they will be actively engaged in realization of that social clause, which has been adopted in the framework of the public finance reform. They expect to pay out about 2,36 billion crowns to cover returns over that five-thousand limit.
Jana Bartošová, government spokesperson: Thank you, the Prime Minister will add something.
Mirek Topolánek, Prime Minister of the Czech Republic: I have three comments to it. I think that the last figure shows apparently that the limit is necessary and that money will be returned to the sickest persons, mostly seniors, and that is why I regard this measure as absolutely necessary. The surplus is caused by two factors. The first one is the increased payment for persons whose health insurance is paid by the state, and the second is unemployment rate, which dropped under 5% and thus payments to the health insurance system are higher thanks to higher number of those who are able to pay. Also increased salaries and wages play a positive role in the increased premium collection. This is good news and it is up to us to take further system measures and to maintain this state by the time when scissors between employed people and pensioners are more opened; therefore we must expects further system changes and this is a good precondition that it would be implemented without any shocks for providers of health care and patients.
Jana Bartošová, government spokesperson: Thank you, and now there is time for your questions.
Tomáš Drahoňovský, TV Prima: I would like to ask Minister Pospíšil whether he could briefly recapitulate what was that controversial clause, which was annulled by the Constitutional Court. And then, whether that commission, if I may call it like this, will decide on the disciplinary action against Mrs. Brožová.
Jiří Pospíšil, Minister of Justice: The original wording stated that the Minister of justice could remove the president of the court. The Constitutional Court stated, and now I am reproducing its legal opinion, not the exact quotation, that a representative of the executive power cannot remove the president of the court, because this function is not only of a managerial character, but it is also connected with independence of judges. Therefore we submit a proposal, which is likely to be successful at the Constitutional Courts. Its idea is that the Minister of Justice does not remove the president of the court; he/she only proposes the removal and the removal itself is done by the judicial disciplinary panel which consists of judges and lawyers. Thus I respect the judgement of the Constitutional Court which took such a stand. As to your second question, the case of Mrs. Brožová will be judged in compliance with the existing law, it means according to disciplinary panels of the High Court in the first instance and in case of the appeal it would be the disciplinary panel of the Supreme Court.
Jana Bartošová, government spokesperson: Thank you, the TV Nova, please.
Kamil Houska, TV Nova: Good afternoon. I have two questions to the Prime Minister. I would like to know what you say to the fact that members of your party, adherents of Vlastimil Tlustý, claim that in case of failure in the presidential election somebody of the ODS wants to blame them of such a failure. Then, I have the second question – do you have evidence that Mr. Švejnar is financed by the ČSOB bank, or are you ready to apologize to him, because he called on you to do that. Thank you.
Mirek Topolánek, Prime Minister of the Czech Republic: I will start with the second question. If you replay the record of the programme, and I will revert to that talk show of Václav Moravec, I did not say anything like that. It was said only by Václav Moravec and I only argued with him on his opinion. I have never said that Jan Švejnar was financed by the ČSOB bank, I just said that his campaign must be undoubtedly more expensive than 500 000 crowns, and I said that he was a victim of the long-lasting game between the CSOB and certain part of our political scene, which was represented also by certain part of the ČSSD (Social Democratic Party). This is my opinion and I do not have any reason for proving it. Every election proves that and this election one is not an exception. I have three issues which I would like to present here, as I have not expressed my opinion on them so far, and I think it would be good to do it. I think that I can manage to comment the Thursday's interpellation using just one quotation of a chat on the Internet, which expresses not only my view but also view of number of viewers and readers: "I was following the programme 168 Hours on TV and saw what the interpellations of Rath and Topolánek were like. Then I read again a corresponding article at iDnes websites. It is very interesting how one can reach a reverse effect through certain option of quotations, titles and subtitles and used formulations. It is not true that I have not notice something like this before, but this example was really very nice." So, those were words of a reader of iDnes websites and it expresses my opinion as well. I will not express my view on it any more. Nevertheless, I must say something regarding the talk show of Václav Moravec, because it is connected with number of other things. I must protest against those speculations concerning my early leaving from this show. We were invited as late as in the last week. The programme was to replace the planned duel between Švejnar and Klaus and that is why the organization was like that. My programme is usually planned several months in advance. In spite of this fact, I cancelled the entire Saturday's programme, that is why I attended the show Miss of the Czech Republic, I cancelled part of the Sunday's programme so as to be able to take part in the programme, because I realized it would have been bad if I did not take part in the discussion, and so as not to be accused that I ignored such discussions. My attendance at the Fed Cup was part of my programme, which had been prepared well ahead. I would have regard as a fault if the Prime Minister did not support our representation. You must know that I could legally use a helicopter for my journey, but I did not. I regarded it as senseless. Therefore, it is not true that I escaped from the debate, and production staff knew that I would be present only for one hour. And still, I think it is necessary to make some comment concerning my fast drive to Brno. I do not want to test your knowledge of the formula s=v.t; it was not 200 kilometres. We were driving about one hour and twenty minutes. Using a simple division it would be possible to reach a conclusion that the average speed was about 150 kmph, and it was speeding on the motorway. Nevertheless, I can assure you that this is within competence of the security services and I do not decide on the speed and the travel plan. Speeding in case statesmen is not deemed as a breach of the law or some rules. Despite this I would like to apologize for driving so fast; nevertheless, the journey was safe, the motorway was empty, and we used in certain situation warning siren and light. That was my explanation. Everything was right and I protest against those statements which accused me of breaching something. So that was rather complicated answer to you simply question. Thank you. As to Mr. Tlustý, I said, and nobody of you did not include this information in your editorials, so I repeat again that I absolutely do not doubt about the fact that Vlastimil Tustý will vote for Václav Klaus and this is the only one sentence that I can say about this issue. All the other things are just speculations which I refuse to deal with.
Jana Bartošová, government spokesperson: Further question, please.
Journalist, Hospodářské noviny daily: Good afternoon, I have a question to the Prime Minister; it concerns the yesterday's journey to Brno, anyway. You remarked on speeding of the Police President Mr. Husák in summer 2006 as follows: "Speeding of Mr. Husák was not about points but about death penalty." I would like to ask why you changed your opinion concerning speeding and why you did not use the warning siren and light the whole time.
Mirek Topolánek, Prime Minister of the Czech Republic: Because we switched it on only in case we might endanger somebody. I suppose my answer to this question was sufficient enough. Besides, it is not a question to me.
Jana Bartošová, government spokesperson: Thank you, the TV Prima.
Tomáš Drahoňovský, TV Prima: Good afternoon once more. A have another question to Minister Pospíšil. I would like to know, as you said that there is certain compromise here between the executive sphere and the judicial system, what will be support of the amendment in the Chamber of Deputies, what do you think? Do not you think there will be a problem with the opposition? And then, one question to the Prime Minister; it concerns that fact that a citizens´ initiative "Yes for Švejnar" was presented today. I would like to know what the sense of such initiatives is. There is also the initiative "I vote for Klaus". Is it possible to say that it indicates higher interest of citizen in the presidential election? Is it good? Is it bad? I would like to know your opinion. Thank you.
Jiří Pospíšil, Minister of Justice: Just one remark – that proposal was debated, as far as general issues are concerned, with representatives of all political parties which have their representatives in the Legislative Committee of the Chamber of Deputies, to be concrete – with its members. I expect that further discussion will be lead. I noticed the article of the deputy Mr. Křeček, and I think that this proposal is supported. But we will lead discussion about the concrete proposal, which was passed to the Chamber of Deputies today. We debated just general aspects before.
Mirek Topolánek, Prime Minister of the Czech Republic: I should say that if we speak about civil society, then it is right. The only one reservation, which is a bit of Klaus´ style, is that these initiatives cannot want to decide. I welcome the fact that there exist various initiatives for the radar or against it, an initiative for Švejnar and for Klaus. It demonstrates certain level of discussion in the society, which is very necessary and I really welcome that. As to the direct presidential election, I think that the result of the yesterday's programme was that members of the ODS are not of the same opinion. When we speak about direct presidential election, we have absolutely clear idea of the type of the election, which is rejected by the others, so far. So, it is a question of a discussion. We do not reject such a discussion. The Ministry of Justice is preparing that proposal. As Jiří Paroubek said yesterday, after the meeting of the government and the session of Chamber of Deputies, it is possible that we would wait to see the next direct election. But I should say again that it does not mean that we should become resigned to dignity of the direct election. I said it in the yesterday's programme and I insist on it, because number of countries has direct election and these elections are not dignified. The lack of dignity is not caused by candidates; it is caused by those who want, using various methods, to control unconstitutionally their deputies and senators and to check what their votes were. Thus, the lack of dignity is preferred and that is why I understand that pressure regarding direct election.
Jana Bartošová, government spokesperson: Thank you, further question.
Václava Vařeková, Radiožurnál: I have a question that concerns the development of the Brdy Region. What is the result of that negotiation on the budget of the commission for Brdy Region development? Will they obtain that 1,25 billion crowns which had been promised, or was the use of money corrected somehow?
Mirek Topolánek, Prime Minister of the Czech Republic: We did not consider this issue in the course of the debate and therefore it was approved in the submitted wording; there was no problem there. All promises that I mentioned in the introduction are realized in the budget. The problem is that now all those who are engaged, I do not mean us who are sitting here, must carry out plans and prepare themselves for drawing those means. I do not have any concrete information on this issue. We really do not interfere in this matter, the commission itself allocates financial means, and I think it is good.
Jana Bartošová, government spokesperson: Thank you, Mladá Fronta daily.

Josef Kopecký, MfD daily: Good afternoon I would like to ask whether your government will be preparing something like a proposal for increase of the speed limit on motorways. Do you consider speed over 150 kmph as safe? Not only for those who drive so fast but also for other drivers. Are not you afraid that certain citizens might understand the fact that top politicians drive so fast as a kind of excuse in case they are controlled by policemen? Thank you.
Mirek Topolánek, Prime Minister of the Czech Republic: Well, I should say that it is rather leading question. Constitutional officials and especially the Prime Minister of the Czech Republic command certain privileges, and you may or you need not agree with them; nevertheless, these privileges have their well-based reasons, because of security. It means that it is not me who decides on the travel plan. The travel plan is changed because of security reasons; we are members of NATO, we are members of various missions. I am able to imagine my life without security guards, but I have not right to live without them. It means I really exclude that somebody could use this example as an argument; he/she must respect the law. This was one thing I wanted to mention. And the second thing – we are constantly considering increase of the speed limit in case of better surface of motorways, but I do not think that this proposal has a dominant support not only in the government but also in the Parliament. I do not think it is necessary to change this principle, in spite of the fact that I admit that in case of those new and powerful cars that speed limit of 130 kmph is not much; nevertheless, if we consider the American experience and number of traffic accidents, then we must admit that this speed limit has sense. In case of professional drivers of security guards I do not expect any problems related to the jeopardizing constitutional officials. They are professionals who are well-trained and I do not doubt their ability to manage those situations. The exception proves the rule – I have the accident of Cyril Svoboda in my mind.
Jana Bartošová, government spokesperson: Thank you, further question, please.
Marek Pokorný, Deník: I would revert to the first issue. You mentioned those municipalities which have not drawn financial means yet. Can you say what the concrete danger is? Will they pay any fines or so? Can you threaten these municipalities with something so that they would meet their obligations?
Petr Gandalovič, Minister of Agriculture: They are two kinds of those impacts resulting from default of obligations relating to the waste waters. One of them is internal and has connection with the Act on Waters; there is stipulated responsibility for meeting these quality parameters and in case of default of those obligations, sanctions are defined there. The second one concerns the relationships of the Czech Republic with the EU, I mean whether the Czech Republic meets the respective Directive. As I have already said, in case of default of this Directive a well-known process would be initiated, which would begun with written warning; it is in fact a kind of an inquiry, the name of which is "Reasoned Opinion", and the case may be concluded with an action of the European Commission against the Czech Republic at the European Court of Justice because of breaching the European Law. We want to avoid such an action and we suppose we will succeed in meeting that Directive within a reasonable deadline, I do not say it will be exactly in 2010. The municipalities are threatened with fines for default the permit for waste water discharging in compliance with the Act on Water and in compliance with the Act on Administrative Delicts.
Jana Bartošová, government spokesperson: Thank you, are there any further question, please? Thank you for your attention and good-bye.

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