Press Conferences

30. 10. 2006 10:30

Press conference with the Secretary General of the North Atlantic Treaty, Jaap de Hoop Scheffer in Hrzán Palace on 30th October 2006

Radim Ochvat, secretary of the Prime Minister: Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the press conference after the meeting of the Prime Minister of the CR, Mirek Topolánek and the Secretary General of NATO, Jaap de Hoop Scheffer. Allow me to give the first floor to the Prime Minister of the CR, Mirek Topolánek.

Mirek Topolánek, Prime Minister of the CR: Thank you. During very short and very intensive meeting, we discussed all the important issues concerning both preparation of the summit in Riga and our participation in missions, and further issues that have connection with our membership in the North Atlantic Treaty. We presented our attitudes regarding range of issues that concerned our interests in West Balkan and the participation of our soldiers in missions in Kosovo and in Bosnia. We discussed a possible development in Kosovo; we talked about a signal, which potential members of NATO or of the Partnership for Peace should be given. We talked about NATO Response Force, we talked about our participation in Afghanistan, we discussed very excellent position of our troops for radiological, chemical and further protection. We debated the main message of the summit in Riga. We talked about financing, we talked about the Czech state budget and decreasing expenditures for defence. I informed the Secretary General that we succeeded in stopping the decrease and I informed him on our cooperation during the military exercises in Doupov, which was attended by the Chairman of the Military Committee of NATO, where we proved our abilities and we finished the preparation period of our 4th Response Brigade. I think that the meeting was very pragmatic and I assured the Secretary General that in spite of all the turbulences in the Czech politics, it is not possible to expect any significant changes regarding our membership, active membership in NATO, and that we would always support strengthening Euro-Atlantic ideas and the Euro-Atlantic cooperation.

Radim Ochvat, secretary of the Prime Minister: I thank the Prime Minister and now, I would ask the Secretary General of NATO, Jaap de Hoop Scheffer, for his introductory speech.

Jaap de Hoop Scheffer, Secretary General of NATO: Thank you for the floor and to start with, I will be talking about Czech ambitions, about Czech contributions and I very appreciate what the Prime Minister said and what concerned the summit in Riga. The summit will be aimed at three principal spheres; first, it will concern international missions of NATO, where the most important priority is Afghanistan, nevertheless, we will not forget Kosovo. It is important for the Riga summit, to highlight full solidarity regarding our performance with regard to Afghanistan and the activities on the entire territory of this country, and regarding Kosovo, political dimensions of these activities will be highlighted as well. The second important sphere will be the political transformation of NATO. I will point out, as the Prime Minister have mentioned, that a positive signal will be given to three countries of the West Balkan, which are now performing activities in the framework of their action plans of activities. I hope that a complex policy regarding the West Balkan will be prepared out and approved. The second part of the second sphere concerns the transformation, which will be aimed at highlighting of the role of NATO, which does not want to act globally, but it wants to cooperate and more cooperate with global partners, like Australia, Japan, and Southern Korea. I must emphasize that NATO is not a world's policeman; the situation is that NATO wants to cooperate with global players in this sphere. The third part will be the transformation at the military side, as we need greater number of soldiers, we need better financing of our operations, we must ensure full operational capacities for our Response Force, we must ensure to fulfil promises that the North Atlantic Treaty had given in the framework of its Prague summit. And this is the reason, as the Prime Minister has mentioned, I spoke about my fears regarding the development of financing of the defence in the Czech Republic. As you certainly know, our level of financing is 2% of the GNP and the Czech Republic is significantly below this level. As the Prime Minister said a minute ago, he was going to deal with this problem thoroughly. And I am very glad to hear it, as it is a very serious matter. In conclusion, let me say that what the Czech Republic is doing, how it continues in developing its special capacity regarding protection against chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear weapons, is highly appreciated. The Czech Republic is a strong ally and in spite of the fact that strong turbulences were mentioned, which are very distant of course regarding me as the Secretary General of NATO, I suppose that we can rely on the cooperation with the Czech Republic in the future. Thank you.

Mirek Topolánek, Prime Minister of the CR: I have forgotten one matter, which we had not mentioned, and which is worth mentioning. We spoke briefly about a topic, which is not new, but it is rather beginning to be debated at the alliance's level and also at the level of the EU and it is also a part of the Finnish presidency of the EU, it is the energetic safety. We agreed that the North Atlantic Treaty must deal with this problem in a more detailed manner. And a kind of joke regarding the financing – the Czech economy grows as fast and the GNP grows by so many percent that the expenditures for the defence are decreasing, but they increase if absolute figures are taken into consideration.

Radim Ochvat, secretary of the Prime Minister: Thank you and good-bye.

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