Press Conferences

21. 8. 2008 15:28

Press Conference of the Prime Minister Mirek Topolánek and the Prime Minister of Slovak Republic Robert Fico, Held at Kramář´s Villa on Thursday 21st

Jana Bartošová, Government spokesperson: Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen, let me welcome you to the press briefing of Mr. Robert Fico, the Prime Minister of the Slovak republic and Mr. Mirek Topolánek, the Prime Minister of the Czech Republic. Let me welcome cordially Mr. Robert Fico and I also welcome Mr. Mirek Topolánek whom I give the floor.

Mirek Topolánek, Prime Minister of the Czech Republic: Good afternoon. We were talking about who would begin. Mr. Prime Minister said I was at home and that I was to begin. I told him during the welcome that he had to feel at home here too, because we had met very often. But surprisingly, we found out from the protocol, it is his first official visit to the Czech Republic in his role of the Prime Minister, in spite of the fact that he was here at the Nuclear Forum and we also met the session of the Visegrad Group together with Mr. Sarkozy. We meet very often. It documents our relations and I am not going to repeat that cliché that relations of the Czech Republic and the Slovak Republic are above-standard, very friendly and without problems. If there are certain problems, we are able to solve them effectively. I would not like it to be cliché; I would like it to be truth. It is truth and these relations are very good on all levels. I accepted the condolence of Robert Fico on the railway accident in Studénka. We also immediately responded to problems concerning floods in Eastern Slovakia. We are in everyday contact and talk about where it is necessary to help. Robert Fico visited the Czech Republic on the day, which is a certain milestone or important date or a fatal date as we sometime call those years ended by the figure "8" – on the 40th anniversary of the 21st August 1968. Quite a long time has passed so that we would be able to assess without myths and speculations that warming up period, that entire period of democratization up to the invasion of "brotherly" armies. It affected our lives, our fates. We revert to this period which became a great hope for citizens of our nations. There are a lot of events which we will absolve in Prague today. We are of the opinion that this date represents certain historical experience which should motivate us to work for citizens of the Czech and Slovak Republics, to live in this union, in a union of friendly countries, above-standard friendly countries. We were talking about two institutions of ours, the Nation's Memory Institute and the Institute for the Study of Totalitarian Regimes. I also call it the "Nation's Memory Institute" I think it is a better name. We support this cooperation because, also in respect to today's date, we should give information enough to our youth and identify victims of that past regime. We support that cooperation. We debated great number of bilateral issues. What connects us is the common interest in energy security. We debated the cooperation in electro-energy industry, the cooperation in gas industry, and as we have already indicated we signed a memorandum on a project concerning railway transport, especially the Czech and Slovak cargo. We mutually conformed today our interest to solve this issue. Our ministers were given a mandate to prepare establishing a joint venture based on principles of equality of both partners. Minister Řebíček and Minister Vážný have such a mandate now. We discussed multilateral problems. We alluded to the issue of Georgia. We agree unanimously on necessity to maintain the territorial integrity in Georgia. We came to the agreement that there should not be any fights there and that it was necessary to withdraw troops to the original positions. The fact that we sent there a humanitarian aid, we approved it at the yesterday's meeting of the government, the fact that we are debating the future of this region, is apparent. If we differ in the assessment of the historical development, then it concerns issues which do not divide us; we have the same opinion on the essential matters, and it is especially the territorial integrity of Georgia. We were debating the Lisbon Treaty, which was a problem that we would cope with in the framework of the EU during our presidency. In this respect, the main problem consists in the fact that certain countries condition the accession of Croatia by adoption of that treaty. It is our common interest and we have the same foreign policy priority, and that is the West Balkan and especially a speedy accession of Croatia to the EU. We are going to closely cooperate during our presidency in this respect and we regard it as the principal priority in the framework of the Czech presidency which will begin 1st January 2009. We were talking about the programme of our presidency. We have been debating the cooperation for a long time, and I do not have a feeling that we differ in identification of our priorities which will be presented by the Czech Republic in the European Union in the first half of 2009. That is all from my side. I am very pleased that Robert Fico visited us officially, so that we could continue our discussions and I welcome him again on such a nice day in Prague.

Jana Bartošová, Government spokesperson: I thank the Prime Minister of the Czech Republic and now the Prime Minister of the Slovak Republic Mr. Robert Fico has the floor.

Robert Fico, Prime Minister of the Slovak Republic: Dear Prime Minister of the Czech Republic, dear ladies and gentlemen. I am greatly honoured to have an opportunity to visit the Czech Republic and its capital on a date which is symbolical and important not only for Slovaks, but in particular for Czechs. An event took place forty years ago which totally liquidated one great dream which people of then Czechoslovakia had - a dream which was started by the era of so called "Bratislava Early Spring" and the "Prague Spring", a dream of democratization of the society, a dream of serious discussion on connecting economic reforms with social aspects, a dream on how to more intensively cope with human rights. For me as a politician who was only four years old then, the legacy of that period is very strong and I am very pleased that today's meeting of Prime Ministers is marked just by this event and that it is possible to continue many interesting matters of that period. We divided our discussion with the Prime Minister in two parts. First, it was a discussion on bilateral issues and then there was a discussion on international issues, as we were members of many international institutions. Therefore, let me confirm briefly certain things which have been indicated by the Prime Minister and then I will perhaps say more about some of them. As far as the cooperation of the Czech and Slovak Republics, the prevailing issue in the recent period is the issue of the energy industry. I am glad that ministers of Industry and Trade signed during the Nuclear Forum a memorandum on cooperation between the ČEPS and SEPS (companies which operate the electricity transmission systems in both countries), which would make establishing the common energy market possible. But there are also other projects here, in particular in the area of nuclear energy, because Slovakia decided on construction of further nuclear blocks and we do not want to exclude the cooperation with the ČEZ (the greatest electric energy producer in the Czech Republic), as I know that there are great capacities and great experience there. The Czech Republic itself operates nuclear power stations and has experience similarly those of Slovakia. I very openly informed the Prime Minister, and I hope I was very concrete, on steps which are being taken by the Slovak government in the sphere of energy industry. I informed him on certain problems in the construction of the third and fourth block in Mochovce nuclear power station, on our plans concerning the nuclear power station in Jaslovské Bohunice and I openly informed him on the ambition of the government of the Slovak Republic to nationalize energy companies in Slovakia in case they continue its monopoly policy to Slovak people in Slovakia. It is not a false threat, it is a real matter and we have concrete law for that; it is a measure which is known in the entire Europe. If anybody goes against interests of the Slovak Republic in the energy industry, the Slovak government is ready to fully use such a possibility. I informed the Prime Minister on other regulatory measures which are being adopted by the government of the Slovak Republic, because our policy was and will be based on the principle that every price measure in Slovakia must correspond to purchasing power of inhabitants. We are still far from the average standard of living of the EU and it is a duty of the Slovak government to cope with such an issue. I hope that Czech partners appreciated openness and the depth of information they received in this respect. As well as the Czech Prime Minister, I welcome that we agreed on principles based on which a Czech-Slovak joint-venture in the sphere of railway cargo could be established. Those principles consist in particular in our efforts to create a strong enterprise which would operate in Europe and would be competitive with other enterprises of the area operating in Europe; further principle is the principle of equal partnership as far as the equal representation in all the organs of the company and the position of the Slovak and Czech Republics are concerned. Now, it is up to Ministers of Transport to transfer agreed principles into concrete projects. Perhaps there will be certain technical problems which are difficult to be anticipated now; nevertheless, it is necessary to discuss joining our powers because only in case these enterprises are strong they will be able to guarantee not only outputs but also the social peace, employment and revenues of the state budgets of both republics. I thanked the Prime Minister today for his care which the Czech Republic showed in the sphere of university students, as number of Slovaks studying at universities in the Czech Republic was several times higher than otherwise. We want to thank for it because responses of Slovaks studying in the Czech Republic are only positive and I hope that it will strengthen our excellent relationships also in the future. As to the issues of foreign policy, the attitudes of the government of the Slovak Republic to Kosovo, Georgia and other issues are clear and apparent enough. We have exchanged our views, but we mainly focused our attention to the Czech presidency of the EU. I thank the Prime Minister for the possibility for our two officials who could work in various organs of the Czech Republic, and especially at the Office of the Government, for six months to get experience, because the presidency is an extraordinary serious role. To a certain extent, I do not envy the Prime Minister his duties which he will have to meet starting from 1st January 2009. The last issue I would like to mention concerns the Lisbon Treaty where certain problems are still lingering caused by the result of the Irish referendum. We share the opinion of the Prime Minister regarding the fact that those formal obstacles must not hamper further enlargement of the EU, in particular by Croatia. We have absolutely the same opinion and we will emphasize it on every occasion also in relation to the largest states of the EU, because it is not possible to make barriers to states which meet conditions of the accession to the EU just because of some formal obstacles which do not concern these states. It is our common attitude which we will present so that also other states now what our position to the enlargement of the EU is like. I think that the other issues have been explained the Prime Minister precisely and there is still further common meeting ahead of us at which we want to inform each other on economic and social development in both countries, as we rather differ in our attitudes. The Slovak Republic will have a new currency starting from 1st January 2009. I intended to bring the Slovak euro to the Prime Minister but I was not allowed to do so. It was not possible as there was certain precedent. Therefore, Prime Minister, I will be able to give it to you when you come to Slovakia as the presiding person of the EU on 7th January 2009. I invite you now on this occasion, as there will be a ceremony of the introduction of euro in Slovakia and we will be talking about ...

Mirek Topolánek, Prime Minister of the Czech Republic: I will still surprise you ...

Robert Fico, Prime Minister of the Slovak Republic: All right. We will be debating the inflation development in the era of the economic growth. These are topics which are very important for the Slovak and Czech public. Prime Minister, thank you for superb welcome, for superb atmosphere which was created for our meeting and I believe that the entire course of today's events will prove that the relations between the Slovak Republic and the Czech Republic are above-standard. Thank you.

Jana Bartošová, Government spokesperson: I thank the Prime Minister of the Slovak Republic and now there is time for two questions of yours, one of them from the Slovak side, one of them from the Czech side. The TV Markýza, please.

TV Markýza: I have a question to both gentlemen. Inhabitants often compare the invasion in 1968 with the situation which took place in Georgia. Could it be compared? What is your opinion? Is there any parallel there? What is your opinion on the future of Georgia in NATO or the participation of both countries in the peace mission in this country? Thank you.

Mirek Topolánek, Prime Minister of the Czech Republic: The parallel there is indirect. Perhaps there exist other parallels but I would not like to remind them, at all. Anyway, I would like to say that the parallel consists in the fact that the soviet imperialism or that Russian federation tend to protect their spheres of influence, their bumper belt, their surroundings and they are willing to use also non-standard means, or military means. There is certain parallel in this respect and perhaps it s not far from truth. The difference is that while the then Czechoslovakia was still a totalitarian regime, in spite of the democratization process, Georgia is a free, sovereign country heading to NATO and other structures; there is certain difference in this respect and I view this response as less adequate that the "brotherly internationalist entering" of those "friendly" armies in 1968. As to the accession of Georgia to NATO, Georgia did not get the invitation to the MAP Programme in Bucharest and I regard it as one of reasons of escalation of that crisis in the Caucasian territory. There will certainly be a tendency to take this step in December 2008. The Czech Republic will support the accession of Georgia to NATO and in case some monitoring and peace forces are established, we will consider at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and at the Ministry of Defence, whether we will be able to ensure such missions from the capacity and financial point of view. The political will really exist here.

Robert Fico, Prime Minister of the Slovak Republic: In spite of the fact that I regard this question as an attempt to drive a wedge between us, you will certainly fail because as far as the attitude to Georgia let me mention the following principles which the government of the Slovak Republic adheres to. The first principle is that it must immediately finish any fights, it must not be threaten civic inhabitants and it is our duty to help people who suffer from any military conflicts. The second principle is the territorial integrity of Georgia; I am saying this on behalf of the government of the Slovak Republic with regard to the fact that you know the attitude of the Slovak government to the issue of Serbia and Kosovo. I repeat once more that the territorial integrity of Georgia is something what the government of the Slovak Republic pushes through as well as we pushed through similar ideas in case of Serbia where the international law was roughly breached and therefore those events took place there. As far as other aspects, I would not like to deal with them, as our objective is to hamper such activities in areas where people live. I am always for telling the truth, on the beginning of the conflict and on what the entire process was like. I refuse black-and-white view; my statements as far as membership in international organizations regardless whether it concerns the membership of Georgia in NATO or membership of other states in other organizations, are known enough. Each international organization has its rules and accession conditions. If a country meets accession conditions and if its membership is in compliance with requirements of other countries, the country becomes a member. If it does not meet those conditions, it will not become a member. That is my view on the possible involvement of Georgia in NATO activities.

Jana Bartošová, Government spokesperson: Thank you, now a question from the Czech side. The Czech TV.

Jakub Nettl, Czech TV: Good afternoon. I would like to ask a question as we are commemorating an anniversary of the year 1968. Is there any security measure which would avert repetition of such an occupation? I mean Poland which on this occasion signed an agreement on the radar with the American side. Can we avert it somehow?

Mirek Topolánek, Prime Minister of the Czech Republic: We signed such an agreement some time ago. I do not have a feeling that it was an essential security measure. In my opinion, freedom is not something which is automatic and I do not want it to be regarded as a cliché. Freedom is indivisible, it is not a part of an agreement; it consists in securing certain processes, free elections for example, and in certain responsibility. It cannot be guaranteed by anything, not even by the defensive pact NATO and our membership in this pact, because if there is a free will, as it was in 1946 and in case of communists win in the elections, there is no guaranty that such a situation cannot be repeated. In this respect the memento of 1968 is so significant for today; because of that shattered hope. What I view as the principal message is the unreformability of that regime from inside; this is valid even to this day. Apart from the defence of freedom and democracy, there are not any security measures for maintaining these values.

Robert Fico, Prime Minister of the Slovak Republic: I deem the European space as extraordinary stable and in my opinion, whether I mean the EU or the membership of European countries in NATO, that they are sufficient guarantees for this space to remain a zone of stability and peace, a zone of very good economic growth and good life of people, as these are things which people in Europe value best. If I am to answer your question from the world's point of view, look at Iraq and you can immediately get the answer to your question.

Jana Bartošová, Government spokesperson: I thank both Prime Ministers and I thank you for your attention.

Robert Fico, Prime Minister of the Slovak Republic: Thank you.

Mirek Topolánek, Prime Minister of the Czech Republic: Have a nice day.

print article   email   facebook   twitter