Press Conferences

28. 1. 2008 16:43

Press conference of the Prime Minister of the Czech Republic, Mirek Topolánek, after the meeting of the government held on 22nd October, 2007

Martin Schmarcz, Head of the Press Unit: Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the press conference after the meeting of the government. In the introduction I give the floor to the Prime Minister, Mirek Topolánek, who will briefly inform you on its agenda and then he will decide which ministers and in what order will have the floor. You have the floor, Prime Minister
Prime Minister of the Czech Republic, Mirek Topolánek: Thank you. He is a liberal. In the introduction we debated two issues, which I would like to mention. The first one concerns the Schengen zone and matters connected with accession to the Schengen zone on 21st December 2007. I think that we will be successful in spite of problems of Hungary, which are already solved now. The second information, apart from oral information on the session of the European Council, concerned Jiří Čunek and operational programmes and their progress. I hope that the media virtual reality was chased away after the interview of the Czech media with Danuta Hübner, and that you will not to speculate which ministers will leave the government because of non-meeting of operational programmes. As to those laws and norms, which were debated today, and there were a lot of them, number of them were essential. I would like to mention the Bill on Transformation of Business Organizations and Cooperatives, which is associated with other laws. We debated repeatedly and in detail the Bill on Excise, which concerned addition of bio-fuels starting from January. We discussed the proposal which was a small amendment to the Act on Public Tenders before the preparation of a more significant amendment. It is rather an implementation amendment; in case Jří Čunek is here, I would ask him to inform you on the main principles of the significant change scheduled for next year. It has a connection with the Concession Act, which was also approved together with the implementation amendment. We approved the amendment to the Act on Public Health Care. I am of the opinion that a key discussion was held on the new Trade Act, a key amendment of this year and we regard it, apart from stabilization measures in the sphere of public finances, as a law of absolute importance. It will be Martin Říman who will inform you about it. The Minister of Industry and Trade proposed number of further proposals, which he would inform you of, whether they concerned Green Cards - the proposal of the parametrical Model which he submitted together with Ivan Langer, or it concerned reducing administrative burden on the enterprise, with which he would certainly want to inform you of. We debated number of proposals of deputies and except of one of them, the stand of the government was negative. After a long discussion we rather forgivingly adopted the proposal concerning medical chambers. I would like to emphasize that the proposal does not contain the issue of the optional membership, as it is frequently mentioned in media. It is not contained in the proposal. I repeat this so that further questions would not be asked. We approved several important laws, concepts, which had been submitted by Vlasta Parkanová, whether they concerned the concept or transformation of the Ministry of defence or civil-military operations at the Přerov airport. I suppose that one more issue is worth mentioning; we approved establishment of subsidiary company of České dráhy (Czech Railways) – ČD Cargo. And we also debated the Report on the Implementation of the National Lisbon Programme. It is all I think as to the issues which are worth mentioning. I would give the floor to a lady, I mean Vlasta Parkanová, to comment on the points of her ministry which were debated today.
Vlasta Parkanová, Minister of Defence: Thank you for the floor. The first point which was debated by the government and which was approved was the Plan for actions of forces and means of the Army of the Czech Republic in foreign operations in 2008. This material is absolutely necessary, of course, so as it could be passed to both chambers of the Parliament, which will debate it and approve it. In its resolution the government approved dispatch of three members of the Army to the commanding structures of the EU in Chad and Central African Republic. The resolution also approves to prolong operation of forces and means of the Army of the Czech Republic in the operation of KFOR forces under NATO command in the Balkan; the total number of persons involved will be 550 from January to December of the next year; as to the operation of the EU Althea in Bosnia and Herzegovina it will be only 5 persons from 1st January to 30th June 2008, and 20persons from July to December 2008. These are perhaps the most essential matters which were necessary to mention. I would like to add that the proposal submitted had to be prepared in compliance with the obligations resulting from our membership in international organizations and priorities of the Czech Republic in the foreign policy sphere. Therefore we approved such a resolution. I would also like to draw your attentions to the fact that more detailed press conference will be held early evening at the Ministry of Defence, and there will be more time to discuss the materials in a detailed manner. Further point concerned the "Transformation of the Defence Sphere of the Czech Republic". Viewers, media and readers probably know about it in connection with the debate on so called transformation of rescue army units. I am going to repeatedly and patiently explain the media disinformation and to explain that the objective of the transformation is to form higher number of forces, i.e. to form two battalions of engineers, to cut financial costs used for maintenance of military rescue units, and to make their activities more efficient. In spite all these measures, irretrievable abilities concerning aid to inhabitants in case of disasters should be preserved. Remaining military units will be able to fulfil humanitarian tasks of civil defence. We are going to go through the presentation in detail at the press conference in the early evening. I would like to remind you in what conditions the military units fulfilled their tasks, which are now being fulfilled without problems by the Integration Rescue System and the Firemen Rescue Corps. This intention is connected with the fact that the Czech Army is fully professional now and the existing state was a kind of residuum of times when no integrated Rescue System existed. It is a kind of a debt and we are fulfilling that what our predecessors intended to do round 2000. It is a really logical step and it is nothing what can endanger health, security lives or property of inhabitants of the Czech Republic. The Army does not want to stop helping people, towns and villages in case of floods and other natural disasters. As I have already stated, the intention is to support the Integrated Rescue System which is now being established and to compensate deficits in training and equipment of other units of the Integrated Rescue System. At present the system is quite established and the Ministry of Interior is prepared to fulfil all the tasks and to call the Army only in the most urgent cases. I do not think it is necessary to double these units unnecessarily. The only thing we want, and what we will observe is the mutual complementation. As to mayors and regional commissioners, who were bearing this change with problems, and who can hardly cope with it, they will be able to ask for using means of the Czech Army for the benefit of the Integrated Rescue System. The only one change is that these requirements will be settled through the operational and information centres of the Integrated Rescue System and through the common operational centre of the Ministry of Defence. It means that they will not be allowed to ask a military unit directly. It will be the Chief of the General Staff, who will decide on using these corps. As to the more detailed explanation, I refer to the early evening press conference again. Finally, the government approved one more material, which title was "Proposal for Further procedure Concerning Preservation of the Air Base Přerov and its usage for mixed air service in Compliance with the Resolution of the Government of 15th November 2006". I would like to state here that based on that resolution of November of the last year the inter-ministerial commission has been working, which was composed of representatives of the Ministry of Defence, the Ministry of Transport, and the Ministry of Regional Development. It cooperated with representatives of the Olomouc and Zlín Regions and with representatives of the town of Přerov. They assessed possibilities of preservation of the air base Přerov and its usage for the mixed air service. I must say, and my colleagues will certainly add something to it, that in spite of the fact that this matter might have been viewed from the military point of view, it is from the point of view of the government also a regional matter because of opportunities of the regional development. Přerov is projected as an airport with mixed air service and therefore it is necessary to take this aspect into consideration - opportunities of the regional development, possibility to be an airport with mixed air service, both military and civil. Thank you for your attention.
Prime Minister of the Czech Republic, Mirek Topolánek: As I was commissioned by Martin Schmarcz to moderate this discussion or the press conference, I give the floor to Martin Říman now to present basic issues which were on the agenda today.
Martin Říman, Minister of Industry and Trade: Thank you for the floor. Let us pay attention to a different subject than the military one. The government approved the Bill amending the Trade Act; the amendment is perhaps the most extensive one since its origin in 1991 and it should revert the trend of previous amendments, hundreds of amendments, as each of them made the Trade Act more complicated and they also made start of entrepreneurs more complicated. Now the total burden should be reduced by about one third, whether it concerns number of pages, which is reduced from 136 down to 93, or number of trades; it is the first essential change. Nowadays the state regulates some 261 trades, which is the highest number of the EU countries. There are countries which do not regulate any trade, there are countries that regulate several trades, for example Estonia only 7, and relatively much regulated Switzerland , which is not a member of the EU but it is possible to be compared, regulates just 48 trades. Therefore we reduce this number from 261 down to 96 and it concerns all types of trades, vocational trades, professional notifiable trades, and permitted trades. The most extensive reduction concerns unqualified notifiable trades, where there will be the only one trade instead of previous 125 unqualified notifiable trades. He who will carry on trade, he will carry on only one trade, in spite of the fact that from the existing point of view there are 125 of them. It is logical and it results form the existing legal norm, which states that in case you cannot identify none of existing 125 trades, you may specify another unqualified notifiable trade, which is nonsense. So that is one matter – great reduction of trades. Trades like blacksmith and horseshoer are regarded as one trade. A blacksmith who will want to operate as horseshoer will not ask for another trade and to submit further necessary papers. The second significant change concerns the administrative sphere, as there will be no trade certificates, which many of you, journalist, know and have them in your offices. In case of control you must have so many trade certificates as number of trades that you carry on, and you must pay for them. Trade certificate will be replaced by a copy of an entry in the trade register. In fact, it will be a copy from a database, where there will be specified number of trades and there will be a single fee for that. It means that there will not be fees for each trade certificate. Entrepreneurs and traders will thus save relatively significant amount of 125 million crowns every year in comparison with the existing state. Also local jurisdiction of Trade Licence Offices will be removed. Thanks to the electronic database there will be access possible everywhere in the territory of the Czech Republic. It means that a trader will be able to ask for changes or other matters from any place in the territory of the Czech Republic. It is rather important change and a trader will have to support the register just by such data, which a Trade Licence Office cannot obtain from resources of the state administration. The third pillar of the amendment to the Trade Act is simplification of the access to entrepreneurship for those who want to start their business. We put employees on the same level as traders. I will give you an example – if a man wants to be a bricklayer and to be employed, then he needs just a certificate of apprenticeship; if he wants to do the same work as a trader, apart from a certificate of apprenticeship also three years of practice are required in spite of the fact that he does the same work. We expect that based on this change the prestige of technical schools and professions where an apprenticeship certificate is requires will be higher; also prestige of professions finished by A levels will be enhanced, because schools will have to prepare pupils so that they could do their job after finishing school attendance. I mentioned this like an example. So, that was information on the Trade Act. Furthermore the government debated a material, which has a three-quarter-year period; I mean a summary on administrative burden reduction at all ministries, whether it concerns the tax sphere, safety of labour, environmental regulations, labour market, etc. As to the Ministry of Industry and Trade, we succeeded in the last period of time in unification of controls performed by Trade Licence Offices and the Czech Commercial Inspection. Their number decreased down to one half in comparison with 26000 in the last year when controls were performed by Trade Licence Offices and the Czech Commercial Inspection independently, in fact. It means that number of control of entrepreneurs decreased by 13000. It is not true that we controlled less, but controls were done concurrently, we did not lose time. We also want to extend this system to the Czech Food Inspection and the Czech Agriculture Inspection. It is necessary to make an agreement with the relevant ministries; as results from our example, it is evident that the system operates well. Furthermore, we succeeded in reducing administrative burden as to number of statistic reports, which was very extensive sphere of activities, by 30% for the year 2008 and we would continue in it. I regard as the greatest success that we managed to reduce the registration form, which every entrepreneur must fill in if he/she wants to get the Trade Certificate. The existing form has 21 pages and 471 items. We reduced it to 2 pages and 140 items; thus the form is much more tabular and simple to be filled in by an entrepreneur. Starting from 1st July it will be possible to fill in the form also through a PC. It means that physical presence at the register office will not be necessary and everybody will be able to ask for Trade Certificate in this way. The last matter that the government debated concerned the Green cards and we agreed here that it would be minister Nečas who would present them.
Prime Minister of the Czech Republic, Mirek Topolánek: So, the Green Cards and minister Nečas.
Petr Nečas, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Labour and Social Affairs: Thank you. Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen, the government approved the basic concept of the Green Card Programme, based in which concrete legislative changes would be done. The principal idea of the programme is the liberalization of the labour market of the Czech Republic, where there is a lack of skilled workers starting from blue-collar professions up to professions for people with university degrees. There is a lack of unskilled workers as well, in fact. At present, more than 220 000 of foreign workers is employed legally in the Czech Republic, above all from member countries of the EU, especially from Slovakia; nevertheless, the Czech economy thanks to its economic growth needs foreign workers and it needs also workers from countries out of the EU. The principal idea of the project is simplification of the bureaucracy procedure, which is very complicated at present. I would compare it with that questionnaire. At present it must be proved first that a job cannot be staffed for three months by a Czech worker or worker from the EU; then an employer must ask for a special permit for employment of foreign staff and only after that may procedure start on a concrete worker. Settlement of all visa formalities and job formalities after that step takes further 120-180 days. We very simplify this process; it means that in the future the administration decision-making process will be reduced. Each vacancy which will be announced and which will not be occupied by a Czech or EU employer will be after 30 days put into the central database at web-sites, unless an employer explicitly states that he/she does not want to employ foreign workers. The Ministry of Industry and Trade will be able to add further vacancies in the list, so called key personnel, which will concern not only significant investments or jobs created for new projects, but also jobs from certain spheres of the public sector, like medical personnel and such like. The Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs will have a corrective mechanism, through which it will be possible to withdraw certain jobs from the list in case of local or sub-regional deformations of the labour market. All these matters will be made public. The Green Card contains both the residence permit and the labour permit and it will be issued at our embassy in abroad; the Ministry of Interior will have right of veto is case it comes to the conclusion that an applicant presents security risk, for example in case of organized crime, international terrorism and such like. The system simplifies the administrative decision-making process, reduces space for bureaucratic decisions, it is possible to be controlled by the public, it will be very liberal, and we want to implement it very quickly, which means that its operation should start in the course of the next year.
Prime Minister of the Czech Republic, Mirek Topolánek: Your questions, please.
Jan Gazdík, MfD: Good afternoon, Gazdík, Mladá fronta Dnes. I would have a question to the Prime Minister and minister Parkanová. I suppose that most of those transformation changes in our army has connection with financial cuts or with less money from the state budget for the army. You, Prime Minister, said about one year ago, when you met the General Secretary of NATO, and then it was about 1,55% GNP that you would regard further decrease as unacceptable and that you supposed slight increase. Now it is about 1,46% and further decrease is to follow. How will it affect the army performance? Is not it in contradiction with your promises? I would not like to take you at your words. What may be the result of the decrease? And then I have one more ...
Prime Minister of the Czech Republic, Mirek Topolánek: Yes, I will start. I underestimated the unacceptability rate. The unacceptability rate was even under 1,55. That was the first note. Second, and now I mean it seriously, our GNP is growing rapidly and therefore from the absolute figure point of view, there is no decrease here; nevertheless, there is a relative decrease in relation to the GNP. Third, we are now debating methodically about covering number of matters by other resources than those of the Ministry of Defence; number of matters will not be covered by the state budget, for example new missions and therefore we will be talking about a different methodology. But the truth is that the budget of the Ministry of Defence is closely connected with the state budget, with budgets of other ministries and with public budgets. In this sense, there is certain financial reduction here. The material shows clearly that we are seeking resources both inside and outside; we are trying to take system measures. I must say and it is obvious that we do not meet those ambitious plans from the point of view of operational ability despite continuous debate. I do not agree with that simple approximation with the shift until 2018. But it is a result of the ten-year planning calendar of NATO, and therefore it would not be a great problem. We are seeking some economies in the organization of the Ministry of Defence, in useless material, in better organization of procurement both military and other materials and I am convinced that we will fulfil those tasks that are ahead of us in the framework of our membership in the UE, in the framework of our membership in NATO and also in the frameworks of our membership in the UN. Concurrently, we do not want to endanger the capability of our army to ensure security for our citizens at home. I agree that certain reduction takes place, that it is a long-term phenomenon, and that we failed to stop it for the present in the process of stabilization of public budgets. I take seriously the promise to stop the decrease and to increase the budget in the future, in spite of the fact that nearly any European country does not fulfil those 2% as it had been agreed. Nevertheless, it is not an excuse for us, it is not our mistake and we want to revert in the medium-term outlook those rates to GNP to such figures which were usual in the past.
Vlasta Parkanová, Minister of Defence: I just add something. I really regretted that the figure 1,55 was not met. My colleagues from the government will certainly confirm it, but each ministry was disappointed when the state budget was drafted and I had to take into consideration that I was part of one government and that I would be exposed to those unpleasant questions whether they will be asked by Brussels or by journalist. I would have to stand it. It is obvious that the percentage for the defence is frequently discussed issue at various negotiations, but I have also learnt what the situation in other countries was. There is one quarter of member states of NATO which meet their obligations. We are part of three quarters of states which do not meet them; there is no reason to be content, there is no reason to rejoice, but I think that after today's debate on the reform package, we can continue in the next year to examine various reserves. You know, those relative figures in percents sometime do not indicate the same situation as those expressed in absolute figures.
Prime Minister of the Czech Republic, Mirek Topolánek: Now the second question, Mr. Gazdík.
Jan Gazdík, MfD: I have one more question. The Ministry of Defence restored in the past garrisons for relatively high amount of money and stated that these decisions were final. Then certain financial cuts followed, the army abandoned those garrisons and thus those investments became useless. Does this document, which you debated, help to avert this, I do not want to say mistake, but this wastage.
Prime Minister of the Czech Republic, Mirek Topolánek: I must say that I am glad that we have professional army; its establishment was rather rapid. You are right in saying that means were often allocated to places where there is no garrison now. I am glad we abandoned that system of three or four large bases of the American type, which would cover the entire army. I think that garrisons are situated now with the outlook to rescue forces, with the outlook to our air force bases; today's document connects with them; it means air bases Kbely, Čáslav, Náměšť and the mixed air operation in Přerov. I do not say that they are definite for ever, but they are definite for a certain time. I leave it to Vlasta Parkanová to specify it. I regret those means which were wasted, but I suppose that number of those investments can be used either in the framework of the army or out of it.
Vlasta Parkanová, Minister of Defence: I would call that previous state as a mistake or wastage to a certain degree; nevertheless, I wish not to have something like that behind me after my era finishes. Apart from other matters, this was also an ambition of the material. You can perhaps blame me for certain excessive reduction, because 1,4% is not a brilliant figure, but in case our predecessors expected that reduction, there would not be these radical changes necessary. In other words, ambition of that material is to avert preparation of further version of the reform after some one or two years.
Martin Schmarcz, Head of the Press Unit: Thank you, further question, please.
Šindelář ČTK: Good afternoon, Šindelář, the economy edition of the ČTK. I would like to ask about the fate of the proposal of deputies, which was on agenda as the point no. 3; it concerned terms of trading with greenhouse gas emission allowances. And then just formally, I have a question to Mr. Říman regarding the point no. 11 – whether it was approved or not.
Prime Minister of the Czech Republic, Mirek Topolánek: Regarding the point no.13, all the ministries were against this proposal, including the Ministry of Environment. The proposal concerned the decrease by 50% in comparison with 2000 if I am not mistaken. Why not to propose 150%? It was rather nonsensical proposal and I did not understand why it had been submitted like that. I just returned from the European Council session, where on the contrary, and that is the second reason why we did not agree with it, there were certain attempts to change relatively radically the system of emission allowances. Our action was not singular in this sense, there were many states which filed them, and it seemed that these actions were rightful because the system of emission allowances showed that it was not efficient in the existing form, with national quotas and national parameters as it was in case of the allocation plan no.1 and 2. So, there are two reasons for that. The first one is has a material character from the point of view of the system in the framework of the EU, and the second one is rather ambitious and it is hardly to be achieved, or hardly to be implemented in the existing knowledge, technologies and such like. The wish is father of the thought.
Martin Říman, Minister of Industry and Trade: May I add something to the point no. 11?
Prime Minister of the Czech Republic, Mirek Topolánek: It concerned frequencies.
Martin Říman, Minister of Industry and Trade: Yes, frequencies.
Martin Schmarcz, Head of the Press Unit: Thank you, further question, please.
Journalist ČRo1: I have two questions. The first one - how the government decided on the separation of cargo transport of Czech Railways, to that separate company Cargo? And the second question does not quite concern today's meeting of the government; nevertheless, Prime Minister what do you say to the fact that social democrats submit constitutional complaint about which they were talking and which they were promising in the connection with the way of debate on the public finance reform in the Chamber o Deputies? Thank you.
Prime Minister of the Czech Republic, Mirek Topolánek: I will start with the simpler question, and it is the second one. I said as early as in those days that means guaranteed by the Constitution and by the Rules of Order of the Chamber of Deputies or the Senate are legitimate means, and it is not important what is my opinion concerning the Constitutional Court, whether I regard them as rightful or not. They are rightful from the point of view of possibility to submit them. I regard them as a standard parliamentary fight between coalition and opposition. I will wait until the decision of the Constitutional Court is made, I do not want to anticipate, and I do not want to present my personal opinion, which is clear. Regarding the Cargo – the discussion has been led for a long time. It concerns number of factors. It concerns transfer of Cargo and transit of certain commodities and goods from railway to roads, lack of competitiveness of railway transport, inability to identify costs of passenger transport and cargo transport. There are a lot of other factors here connected with opining of that market to Europe, resulting from our membership in the Schengen Zone, it means with definite opening of frontiers; it means an effort to cover this area between eastern frontier of the Schengen zone, or the EU, and our western frontier. It belongs among long-term intentions of this government as well as of the previous government. It has been consulted in detail with trade unions, which supported that idea, after all, because only after effectiveness of the cargo transport is increased we will be able to solve problems of passenger transport. At present it will mean increased demands for the state budget. We expect it, but it will enable optimization of regional railways and increase of effectiveness. We approved it and we have further intention concerning this about which you will be informed in time.
Martin Schmarcz, Head of the Press Unit: Thank you and I ask for the last question owing to the following programme. TV Nova. O.K. two questions, the TV Nova and then the ČT. Then it will be finish.
Kamil Houska, TV Nova: Prime Minister, do you have an idea when your team could be completed by a Minister of Education? You presented certain reservations concerning the Deputy Minister Lužný, the group of deputies of the Green Party did not generate any other name. Is that man a great problem for you? Thank you.
Prime Minister of the Czech Republic, Mirek Topolánek: I do not remember any of my responses to nomination of the Deputy Minister Lužný. I did not get any nomination. And I cannot be interested in various resolutions of other parties at the moment. I expressed my opinion just once and it did not concern the name of Mr. Lužný; it concerned the fact whether I wish to preserve continuity or if I prefer discontinuity of the personnel development at the Ministry of Education, Youth and Physical Training. I preferred discontinuity, which may mean for you that I disagree with the Deputy Minister Lužný and you are not mistaken.
Martin Schmarcz, Head of the Press Unit: Thank you, Česká televize, please.
Journalist ČT: Good afternoon, I have several questions. First of all I would like to ask a question – the Minister of Foreign Affairs was to present here an analysis of the failure of the Czech Republic in the election of the non-permanent member of the UN Security Council. I would like to ask whether he really presented it and what the reasons were. And one more question ...
Prime Minister of the Czech Republic, Mirek Topolánek: Let us try the first question. We do not have the analysis ready yet. We are debating it. I would like to thank a daily which I do not read, I think it was Haló noviny daily, or what its name was, which presented my opinion of 2005 when I explicitly stated reasons of then disapproval of the ODS to our candidacy to non-permanent member of the UN Security Council. Those reason which I stated as reasons which most endanger our victory, proved to be decisive. That was the first remark. Second, I would like to demonstrate that, unlike other political parties, I am an adherent of continual foreign policy and therefore nobody could expect us to annul that task, which had been a priority of the Czech foreign policy for a long time. I would even say that only after the appointment of this government and my person to the position of the Prime Minister work on the presentation of this intention started. That was an introduction. We are to make a brief analysis, which we want to prepare for the Chamber of Deputies. It should state principal reasons which could influence our candidacy, what our fault was and what was not. Undoubtedly, we could not influence the election, as it was influenced by decisions of other countries. There was also concurrence of the EU presidency, which is a very strong factor, I think, especially in case of countries that did not want strengthening od the Council by further Euro-Atlantic state, and especially a member state of the EU, and at that time even presiding country. What was the reason which could influence the election – that is a question; we debate it, but it is not worth very detailed debating, as it did not happen anything special. The Czech Republic stood as a candidate for the second time and Croatia influenced decisions of certain states for the first time. It could have both positive and negative influence. We do not have it quantified. We could hardly influence it, we are not to blame. Also my speeches both at the Security Council and at a reception arranged in New York were unequivocally about human rights protection and about democratic development protection in number of countries. It took away some votes from us without doubt. I cannot imagine Belarus, North Korea, Myanmar, Venezuela, China and some other countries to vote us. Very significant influence had the fact that we were members of the EU that we are members of NATO that we participate in number of peace and reconstruction missions. Also this aspect could take away some votes from us. I do not think that they are true certain speculations, for example that some votes were taken away from us because of the speech of Václav Klaus and his opinion on global warming. I must say that I regard as a degradation of the Nobel Prize the fact that it was Al Gore who was awarded, but it is another issue. I must say that we did not succeeded in unification of the Visegrad countries and it was connected with fact that Croatia had started much sooner. Number of countries did not even vote in compliance with their written obligations. Also such examples happened. I must say that also the way how our opposition presents our foreign policy in abroad could have a small influence on the vote. We have never doubted in the opposition the way how the foreign policy had been presented in abroad. Then there are certain aspects which we are to blame. I do not think my person as Mirek Topolánek, Karel Schwarzenberg as the Minister of Foreign Affairs, and the Czech diplomacy. These are factors which are perhaps not worth mentioning here. We may have given only small gifts. The UN is, from the point of view of certain representatives, very bizarre organization. In this sense Croatia had to pay more. Our diplomacy had too ambitious objectives, which were not achievable. Also undervalue of our opponent could be a reason, or insufficient information service of our embassies. We have more embassies than Croatia, it is not true what the opposition says that we reduced their number; we have more embassies. In spite of this fact we were not able to win more votes. I think it is necessary to reappraise our development and humanitarian policy. It is not possible to send tens million crowns to a country which votes for our opponent in the end. And there is a range of further subjective reasons. Nevertheless, the most key reasons are those which we could not influence and they decided that the difference was two votes in the first round. In the UN is obvious that if the support is not high in the first round, then in the second round and further rounds the support is decreasing. Our leaving after the second round was very honest and fair. I spent twenty minutes talking to Ivo Sanader that evening, as our support of Croatia membership in the EU is lasting regardless our competition in the UN Security Council. The analysis will be worked out, nevertheless I do not regard this issue as a fatal one, unlike opposition which tries to make a big problem of it. The fact that we won the UN Deputy General Secretary nobody mentioned here. I am of the opinion that it is far more important matter.
Journalist ČT: If I may to ask the second question, I ask just for short response. Právo daily on Saturday and also Mladá Fronta wrote about a secret material which was allegedly presented by Jiří Paroubek at the Executive Committee. He stated that the reform which he criticizes would not in fact have such an essential impact on Czech families. Do you perceive this? I ask just for a brief comment. And then an important question – you said there was a wild debate on the chambers. I would like to ask why. What was the score of votes?
Prime Minister of the Czech Republic, Mirek Topolánek: As to the first question, it is not surprising for me, we have been saying this all the time. As to the second one – the problem is that in spite of the fact that the amendment is aimed at the right direction, attempts to solve voluntary membership now, and it will be also part of the debate in the Chamber of Deputies, are not good for the discussion because of turbulent atmosphere in the Czech health care sphere. We do not prefer it now and we think that these chambers are necessary to be reformed somehow if they are to perform part of the state administration on behalf of the state. Nevertheless, we consider the amendment to be rather half-cooked and any attempts to add some more point would evoke further turbulences in the Chamber of Deputies; nevertheless the debate was not very overheated. We approved with this mildly. It was approved in the end. The difference of votes was very small; neutral stands prevailed.
Martin Schmarcz, Head of the Press Unit: Thank you, unfortunately, we have to finish because of further programme. I apologize for that short press conference.

print article   email   facebook   twitter