Press Conferences

30. 3. 2007 10:38

Press conference of the Prime Minister of the Czech Republic, Mirek Topolánek, held after the meeting of the government on Monday, 28th March, 2007

Martin Schmarcz, Head of the Press Department of the Office of the Government: Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the press conference after the meeting of the Czech government. Owing to the following programme of the Prime Minister, the press conference will be short; nevertheless, in spite of this fact he will not have his lunch. Therefore, I ask this time for your patience. As an introduction, I give the floor to the Prime Minister, without delay, who will inform you on all the important issues and I suppose that you will have no further questions. I hope.
Mirek Topolánek, Prime Minister of the Czech Republic: Thank you. I remind you that I will have to leave at half past one or at one thirty six or thirty seven at the latest and therefore I will let answers to any further questions to Minister Schwarzenberg and minister Parkanová. In spite of this, allow me certain reflection or throwback of something what had happened here on 20th September in this room, half a year ago. On 20th September, half a year ago, I was answering questions of journalists regarding phone tapping because of information leakage concerning the Kubice Report, and I said: "It is of course baleful relic of the previous government. The fact that number of journalists and politicians was tapped is surprising and that is why the fourth estate drew our attention to this". I must say I am very glad that independent media operated well in this case. I must say I have been lambasting and abusing from the side of the opposing CSSD since then. I must say it is a positive matter, that thanks to journalists, and that it is evident now that my fears were fully valid and that I was right. The Inspection of the Ministry of Interior was not only tapping innocent people in the reign of the previous government – Ivan Langer, Jan Vidím, Jan Hrbáček, Sabina Slonková but moreover, it was tapping number of innocent family members, uninterested persons and accidental namesakes. I am giving back to Jiří Paroubek his favourite Talleyrand theorem – it was worse than a crime, it was a fault. It was a fault that the Inspection of the Ministry of Interior started massive investigation including tapping of journalists in the case the then Prime Minister was interested in. It was fault that phone tapping was ordered without checking of reasons for that. It was fault that nobody checked how many persons had been tapped. Was not that an intention? It was fault that the entire case was intentionally connected with Jiří Paroubek´s information on the crime and thus the former Prime Minister could gain access to phone tapping records of his political rivals. And finally, the greatest fault was, former Prime Minister Paroubek, that instead of simply discretion and hoping that this case would fade out, you were keeping the case alive for half a year. So, now you can interpellate me as you like, but you are barking up the wrong tree. It is your scandal, your problem, you are on the blame, not I; you must explain to citizens of this country what was the situation like then. I am of the opinion that citizens are expecting that. It was and it is a baleful relic of the previous government and the task of my government is to release our citizens from this baleful relic and to give them certainty that their rights, their freedom will be respected and their private life will be protected. The second matter, about which I want to speak today, and I will not answer questions concerning this any longer, concerns intentionally made scandals that are related to my person; it is surprising that also reliable media take over information of tabloids and that information from private correspondence or illegal tapping are presented as real problems. I say openly I am not willing to express my opinions concerning this at all. The third matter I want to mention today, as I can see Jiří Čunek is not present here, because he had some other commitments, concerns the situation after negotiations at the level of chairmen of coalition parties. The meeting has been held. I am not going to allow somebody to influence me regarding my working programme and I regard as impudent to force us to say where and when we will have our meetings, as it was yesterday. Jiří Čunek regards his resignation, if any, as a confession of guiltiness and he is not going to do that. And I am not going to force him to do that. I think this is the result of the meeting. I incline to this standpoint. We noted the standpoint of Jiří Čunek also by reason of that media chase, which exceeded limits of discernments and I must say that the media campaign played certain role in forming my decision. Further issue that is worth mentioning and giving detailed information is the note of the USA that was debated today. As an introduction, I would like to say that the fact that we have been preparing the note for a long time was connected with number of technical matters or matters, which had to be debated in that team, which had been preparing the note, so that all the sentences in the note would be in compliance with our standpoint, with our interests and the debate conducted, which was very topical during last weeks. The government approved today our response to the American note, i.e. the note of the USA. We suppose its handover to the American side through the America Embassy in the next few hours. It is the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, which is responsible to arrange that. The basis of our response was prepared by the negotiating team of experts of both the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Defence. The government made certain amendments to it; it means that the final version was finished only in the morning. A note is not a binding document; it is rather a political declaration. It means that the political declaration of the government is that the government approved start of negotiations. The government noted the text of the note after certain comments. The resolution was adopted. We chose a different attitude than Poland, which answered using the only one sentence – "Yes, we are prepared to negotiate". We supposed that it was better to define certain limits at the very beginning. The note and its annexes – it is information for media – will be declassified by 48 hours after handover to the American side. Declassification does not mean publishing, in this case. Handover to media would be in contradiction with a diplomatic practice. The President, deputies, senators and other key officials will be given the text, of course. But it would be good to say something about the text of the note, after all; to inform you on the content of the note, on what measures or possible problems are trying to be eliminated by the note. The Czech Republic respects the existence of threats against which the anti-missile defence is being prepared. It respects the fact that the system of anti-missile defence will strengthen security relationships both in a bilateral way and within the structures of NATO. It consider the necessity of a NATO´s anti-missile system development as suitable and it informs the American side that the Czech Republic will be aiming to integrate the radar station into the future system of the NATO´s anti-missile defence. The Czech Republic confirms that it decided to start negotiations with the USA. It confirms that the USA can do certain fact-finding and preparatory works under strictly defined conditions and in compliance with Czech laws. The Czech Republic defines agreements, on which it will negotiate with the USA. It is an agreement on anti-missile defence, amendment of the NATO SOFA so that it could serve for bilateral purposes, and the agreement on classified information. An emphasis is put in the text on compatibility with the Czech and international law, on sovereignty of the Czech Republic and on necessity of parliamentary approval, which is stipulated in the Czech Constitution, and in case of a presidential treaty, also on necessity of signing the document by the President. In the annex a) there is stated that the radar is to be situated in a military training area in Brdy and there are several variants of location within this area. The annex b) describes what works will be possible to do in the area and who will finance them. It does not concern any irreversible steps, all the steps that will be made in the time before ratification will be reversible steps; in case the ratification process in Parliament fails there would be no problem. I leave questions, if any, for Karel Schwarzenberg and Vlasta Parkanová. And now I try to inform you on the main issues of the agenda of the government's meeting. I do not know what issues you may be interested in. Nevertheless, some of pints were suspended. We will discuss them at the meeting next week. We approved the bill, which concerns animals protection and we will pass it to the Chamber of Deputies. In case of the Act on Prices of Medicaments we decided to prepare an amendment, because the old version brings about certain problems regarding the European Commission. We approved the National Coordinator of Euro; we approved the Council of the Government for Information Society as an important tool of one of our main priorities – modern and effective state. We approved proposal concerning financial coverage of this year's budget, it concerned effect of deputies´ motions, which were related to using financial means from the state budget. We approved number of other things, which are not so important, according to my opinion or which you may not be interested in, in comparison with those that I have mentioned. That is all from my side.
Martin Schmarcz, Head of the Press Department of the Office of the Government: Prime Minister, you are too kind, I am afraid. There is no time for questions, as we have to set out for the Czech Point opening.
Mirek Topolánek, Prime Minister of the Czech Republic: I will leave ministers here, so that you could ask questions on the radar base. I suppose it is the principal issue of the day. Ivan Langer.
Ivan Langer, Minister of Interior and Informatics: Let me jump the queue. I would like to present my comments regarding the first issue, which has been mentioned by the Prime Minister. It is about one year and a half when I, in response to a journalist's question, said here that also I had information on the fact that about tapping of some 20 officials and journalists in connection with the Kubice Report. Now it was shown that the information was true. In spite of the fact that I published it and that I said it had to be checked, I was lambasted and called to resign from the side of the social democracy. Unfortunately, it is being shown now that it is true, and that this fact shows monstrosity of the machinery that was formed in times of governments of the CSSD, monstrosity that can be characterized by disregard for principal right for inviolability of privacy. I will not add more comments today regarding this matter, I will arrange a special press conference on it tomorrow; let me have more time, so that I could have information checked in detail during this day. Thank you.
Mirek Topolánek, Prime Minister of the Czech Republic: Thank you, I will leave my colleagues to you. Excuse me.
Martin Schmarcz, Head of the Press Department of the Office of the Government: It will be Mr. Hrbek from the Press Department, who will be moderating the rest of the press conference.
Jiří Hrbek, Press Department of the Office of the Government: Good afternoon. Minister Schwarzenberg will inform you briefly on the note to the USA.
Karel Schwarzenberg, Minister of Foreign Affairs: I would say it was very precisely prepared response and the fact was reflected in it that we have a coalition government. Together with my colleague Parkanová, we enforced a very important clause there - that we respect necessity of the development of an anti-missile system of the NATO and inform the American side that the Czech Republic will be aiming at integration of the radar station in the future structures of the NATO. Our basic Czech requirements concerning integration of the entire anti-missile defence in the NATO is included in the response. I think it is very important matter and that it was shown that we are very good coalition that we cooperate and that it was approved by all members of the government. It is just response, in fact, that expresses our readiness and the fact that we still have not decided on the exact location of the station in the military training area. And it is an important that works, which will be done there in the period preceding ratification, will be works of exploratory character. There are certain fears concerning residua of armies, which had been located there for a long time; in places where the Soviet army had been located various residua were found in the soil. I hope it will not be the case of Brdy. Nevertheless, Americans would like to know whether something is there or not. Therefore we will be doing exploratory works there to find out what is there. And we must also finish the geological exploration so that we could decide which area is the most suitable one. It is what I wanted to emphasize. Mrs. Parkanová would like to add something to it, I am sure. And I must say that our ministries cooperated well during preparation and I must say that also the debate at the meeting of the government was very intensive and that we agreed on what we are dispatching to the USA.
Jiří Hrbek, Press Department of the Office of the Government: I thank the minister. Will Minister Parkanová want to add something? I give her the floor.
Vlasta Parkanová, Minister of Defence: Good afternoon ladies and gentlemen, I will use this opportunity to repeat once more what part of the general public knows and uses, but it is worth repeating. On our websites we prepared individual part on the issue of anti-missile defence. It is a really independent source of information, there is no lobbing for either side, for either opinion; there is information there for all those who want to get information before forming their attitudes. Further information will be added to this Internet address as soon as the note is declassified after those 48 hours. Then everybody, journalists and the general public will have opportunity to use this information source. Now I would mention here three matters that people are probably thinking of. As to the sovereignty of the area, the sovereignty of the Czech Republic will be kept, it is obvious. The territory will not be under the exclusive American jurisdiction. We suppose that the agreement on use of the territory will be concluded for a definite period and it is good to again and again remind the Czech public the fact that army bases of a similar type already exist in 14 member countries of the EU. And as to Europe as a whole, it concerns 18 states. We will use experience of those countries during negotiations on the legal framework, of course. As to the enforcement of the Czech laws on the base, we suppose, and the USA confirmed it, that the statute of American soldiers would be based on the agreement on the statute of forces. The Prime Minister mentioned it here; it is the well-known NATO SOFA. It is an agreement that member states of NATO concluded as early as in 1951. After our accession to NATO we accessed to this agreement, too of course. It includes clear definitions of condition, under which soldiers are subjected to law of hosting country. I repeat again – the argument concerning American soldiers in the Czech Republic, or I will use conditional mood – in case there would be American soldiers in the Czech Republic they would be subjected to American law in case of committing a crime in the course of service. It would be for example in case that a soldier escapes from the guard in case of disturbance, damage of American property or damage of the radar. In all the other cases they would be subjected to Czech law, they would be judged by Czech courts and according to Czech law. I think that it is necessary to repeat it again and again. The last note concerning one of topics – after the note is declassified the term "preparatory works" will be frequently mentioned. Under the term preparatory works we mean various technical works and explorations. Whatever it will be done in the framework of preparatory works, will be in compliance with Czech legal norms. And everything what will be done before ratification will be reversible. This fact has also been mentioned by the Prime Minister and the Minister of Foreign Affairs. I would like to put an emphasis on it again. That is all from my side. Thank you for your attention.
Jiří Hrbek, Press Department of the Office of the Government: I thank Minister Vlasta Parkanová. And now there is time for your questions. Mr. Takáč, Česká televize, has raised his hand as the first one.
Daniel Takáč, ČT: Good afternoon. I would like to ask Minister Schwarzenberg to inform us whether the Russian Embassy or Russia has been informed by the diplomatic way on our decision concerning the note. And I would like to ask the Minister of Defence to tell us if there is a deadline set, by which the base is to be integrated into structures of the NATO and by which it would ceases to be an American base.
Karel Schwarzenberg, Minister of Foreign Affairs: I would like to say that the note will be sent only to the Embassy of the USA. Other embassies, members and allies of the NATO, but also neutral states or other states as the Russian Federation, for example, will be informed through media and we will not inform them specially. I do not know any reason for exclusion of the only one embassy from the normal routine.
Vlasta Parkanová, Minister of Defence: As to the second question of yours, I would like to say that we declare that we want to aim at integration of the radar base into the structures of the anti-missile defence of NATO, which is now being formed. We do not gloss over the fact and we do not want to pretend that this matter is nearly agreed. There is a lot of work ahead of us, whether it concerns meeting of Prime Ministers of member states of NATO, Ministers of Foreign Affairs of member states of NATO, Ministers of Defence of NATO, ambassadors, who are in Brussels and are involved in this sphere; it will be a long way, perhaps very difficult one, but we are convinced that we will reach our objective. The cornerstone is the feasibility study that was adopted at the Riga summit and one of many tasks that were assigned there is a task, which is aimed at this objective. I would express my opinions in an awkward way if I mention some details now, but I think that the turn of 2007 and 2008 could bring some new information in this respect and some new solutions.
Jiří Hrbek, Press Department of the Office of the Government: Thank you, now Mrs. Adamičková, Právo, if can see well.
Naďa Adamičková, Právo: I would like to ask both ministers whether the response was adopted unanimously or what was the voting at the meeting like? And second, regarding the annex b), where preparatory works are mentioned – do you mean also construction works under this term?
Karel Schwarzenberg, Minister of Foreign Affairs: I would like to draw your attention to the fact that they are not two men here but one man and one lady. And now I let Minister Parkanová to answer the question.
Vlasta Parkanová, Minister of Defence: As to the vote, I am always, as much as possible, for frank information regarding what I say but here I feel that certain principle should be respected regarding vote of individuals. The voting of the government is a collective act and even if somebody had different opinion, he/she would be collectively responsible for the decision adopted. So, I feel embarrassed regarding the information on this matter, minister.
Karel Schwarzenberg, Minister of Foreign Affairs: We approved it.
Vlasta Parkanová, Minister of Defence: We approved it. As to those preparatory works, I do not know what you mean by this question, because if you mean some bore-holes or geological explorations or radio measuring – if you think that they are construction work, then yes. It can be involved under this term.
Karel Schwarzenberg, Minister of Foreign Affairs: Nevertheless, according to information I have, it concerns especially exploratory works aiming at finding places where there is a leakage of oil for example or ammunition hidden in the ground; we would have to remove it in such a case. I drew the attention of members of the government to the fact that I insist on removal of impurities found in the ground as it is the standpoint of Greens. It should have been done long ago. It would be the only one irreversible step if it is something there. In case we find something wrong there, we will remove it. The other steps will be reversible.
Jiří Hrbek, Press Department of the Office of the Government: Thank you, who has further question? Mr. Takáč again.
Daniel Takáč, ČT: I would ask the Minister of Defence for more detailed information. In spite of the fact that we do not want to know who had different opinion, I wonder if we can be informed on the rate of votes; whether the voting was unanimous or not. And then, may I ask for information on the bribery affair at the Ministry of Defence? Do you have detailed information concerning the fact whether it concerned only officers of the Ministry of Defence or some other structures? And the second question - are you preparing some personal changes, in spite of the fact that no concrete accusation have not been brought? The matter can be dragging on for a long time. So, are you preparing any personal measures? Thank you.
Vlasta Parkanová, Minister of Defence: I will start from the end, Mr. Takáč. This is an individual issue and it does not belong to the Office of the Government. I do not avoid communication with you, if you like I will express my opinion individually, but I must say that the investigation into this matter is done by the Police of the Czech Republic and I do not receive any above-standard online information. I do not require that; I have no right to require that. Therefore, the extent of my answer will be adequate. You see, for the sake of that, I have forgotten the first question. Perhaps I can say that with the exception of one abstention, it was unanimous voting. But I am not quite sure whether some colleagues of mine will be angry with me, because we were speaking about collective responsibility in this sense and our outputs should be formulated accordingly. But I have certain problems with my openness. So, I have already told it to you.
Jiří Hrbek, Press Department of the Office of the Government: Thank you, further question, please.
Robert Břešťan, Hospodářské noviny: Good afternoon. Just briefly – when do you expect the finish of those negotiations, in spite of the fact that they will only start?
Karel Schwarzenberg, Minister of Foreign Affairs: I do not know when they will finish, because we must enforce our interests and our conditions. Therefore, they can be very tough and long negotiations. Nevertheless, I suppose that we may conclude them by the end of the year.
Jiří Hrbek, Press Department of the Office of the Government: Thank you, further question, please.
Neschovalová, DPA: I would like to ask a question, which is not quite to you, but still, why the USA hurry so much to start preparatory works before the ratification, what is your opinion?
Karel Schwarzenberg, Minister of Foreign Affairs: Once more. It concerns exploratory works, above all, because in case something is found there, something in the soil, something serious, then we would have to transfer the base to a different place. We did not defined intentionally that it would be in the military training area in Brdy; the exact place has not been defined. In order we could agree on the exact place, we have to explore them. Understand it. It is very important. Second, it should be ready by 2011 and therefore we will do all things that we can do without the agreement concluded, because the exploratory works would cause delay by several months. Now, in the stage of negotiations, we are doing preparatory works. We will either find nothing, all right, excellent, or we will find something and then we must remove it. It would be good, forest will be cleaned, and it would be all right. Thus, we can conclude the agreement on a definite place by the end of the year. Whether we conclude the agreement with Americans or not that is a question.
Neschovalová, DPA: Do you have information on the price of those exploratory works?
Karel Schwarzenberg, Minister of Foreign Affairs: We are going to receive an offer soon, but it will not be high amount. I am not afraid of it. It will be a normal building site as in case any other building.
Jiří Hrbek, Press Department of the Office of the Government: Thank you. As the Minister of Defence and the Minister of Foreign Affairs have further programme, I ask for the last question, if any. It seems there is not any and therefore I thank you. I thank ministers and I am looking forward to see you next time.

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