Press Conferences

12. 11. 2008 16:14

Prime Minister M. Topolánek's press conference after meeting with J.P. Balkenenden, the Prime Minister of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, on 12 Nov

Jana Bartošová, spokeswoman for the Czech government: Hello ladies and gentlemen. Please allow me to welcome to our press conference the Prime Minister of the Czech Republic, Mr. Mirek Topolánek, and the Prime Minister of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, Mr. Jan Peter Balkenenden. I will yield the floor to the Prime Minister of the Czech Republic.

Mirek Topolánek, Prime Minister of the Czech Republic: To begin with, I would like to welcome Jan Peter Balkenenden, the Netherlands Prime Minister, whom I have met with very often. I'm very glad that he could come before the Czech presidency begins and that we could discuss not only bilateral issues but also, mainly, issues that will come up during our presidency and where the discussion with heads of state of the entire EU will finish. We discussed a wide variety of issues.

There is a lot that connects us. We have very similar opinions. I think that we have a very similar opinion on EU enlargement and on the integration of the western Balkans. We discussed our missions. You know that we support the Dutch base in Afghanistan, at Urusgan. We discussed issues around the EU, the Eastern dimension, and Euro-Atlantic ties. But the main emphasis was placed on issues that will come up during our presidency. The Dutch government, just as the Czech government, is today occupied very intensively with solutions to the impacts of the financial crisis on the current economy, which in our opinion will be one of the main topics of the March summit next year.

We are also looking at tools and other methods. First, to solve or eliminate problems such as the mortgage crisis and its expansion from the USA, as well as the main impacts on our economy, on our unemployment, on our economic parameters. I think that at this moment this is one of the EU's main themes. The other issue that will be dominant during our presidency is energy security and the related discussion on the climate-energy package and the December summit where this package could be approved. We discussed the Lisbon Treaty. That is a topic that goes along with an European discussion today, and I will instead yield the floor to Jan Peter, so that he can fill out the rest.

Jan Peter Balkenenden, Prime Minister of the Kingdom of the Netherlands: I would like to thank you for the invitation. I consider it as a sign of our good friendship. All this is part of the preparations for the Czech Republic's presidency of the European Union. I understood that the new logo will be introduced for the presidency. During our presidency I was also able to introduce our logo. I hope that the Czech Republic will also be happy with its logo. The Czech Republic and the Netherlands have a unique relationship. Our countries cooperate in NATO and in the European Union. Side by side, we fight in Afghanistan together. That is connected to many things. We are there to help people, so that people can live in a safer world.

We are looking forward to your presidency in coming months. I know the Czech Republic has prepared well for its presidency. It has taken a lot of time and energy, and that you are well-prepared. I know that the larger countries are very able to supplement this presidency and execute. This presidency is also necessary because there is a wide range of complex issues that must be discussed. We have the Lisbon Treaty, the financial crisis, climate change; all those are current issues. We discussed all these issues during today's bilateral meetings: The financial crisis, the economic situation, will be necessary to coordinate and approach in such a way that this crisis - or its impact - is lessened.

Europe has shown the value of cooperation. We have a lot of work. On Friday we will have a meeting of the G20 in Washington. What is Europe's message for the future of the financial crisis? We will strengthen global institutions and enable supervisory institutions to carry out long-term supervision and have that supervision be expanded so that we can ensure continued sustainable growth of the European economy. We must approach this in a coordinated manner. As far as the climate goes, energy requires us to take the appropriate steps so that Europe shows its position despite the financial crisis. It is a huge opportunity for Europe, and a huge opportunity for action.

As for the Lisbon Treaty, we ratified it, and a breakthrough is necessary in the European Council in December. The European Council should seek a solution outside the treaty. I also hope that the Czech Republic will ratify the treaty as quickly as possible in the next year, and I hope the Czech Republic plays an important role in this area in the next year. We had pragmatic discussions on the topic. Mr. Topolánek is prepared. He is motivated for the Czech presidency to be successful. I have also promised our assistance in making it successful if it is required during the presidency. We have a lot of work before us. It is important that we remain as one large family in our ambitions, and then our tasks will begin to be realised. We wish you all the best in your presidency. You are well-prepared, and I hope it will be successful. Thank you.

Jana Bartošová, spokeswoman for the Czech government: Thank you to the Prime Minister of the Kingdom of the Netherlands. And now for your questions. ČTK, please.

Lucie Petrová, ČTK: Hello, these would be questions for both prime ministers. A short while ago I received a report from AP relating to the Lisbon Treaty, that the Irish foreign minister criticised our president for his opinions and for meeting with the leader of the anti-Lisbon movement and marked the president's ideas as being absurd, shallow and untruthful. From countries that are trying to find a way out of this crisis, I would like for the opinions of the prime ministers and also for your colleagues' opinions. Thank you.

Mirek Topolánek, Prime Minister of the Czech Republic: I can remember the constitution and the Dutch and French 'no' votes. I do not remember that any of us criticized our colleagues from the Netherlands and France, or, god forbid, the Dutch and French publics or being wrong. Everyone has a right to their opinions. Europe is democratic, and freedom of speech is even in this sense. I have nothing else to add.

Jan Peter Balkenenden, Prime Minister of the Kingdom of the Netherlands: I would like to say this: The Lisbon Treaty has a number of advantages. I know President Klaus' opinions, but I believe this is connected with developments in the recent months. Cooperation in Europe, and an understanding of what the financial crisis means, enabled Europe to avoid worse things at the time. Cooperation and the Treaty show how many advantages there are. As far as climate issues go, we also need a European Union that functions well. The Lisbon Treaty offers these possibilities. In recent years, as Mr. Topolánek said, we had the referenda in France and the Netherlands. We tried to find a solution. I am convinced that the Lisbon Treaty has a number of advantages, and at a time when we are facing the financial crisis, security issues, climate issues, it is necessary to see the advantages of the Lisbon Treaty and defend it. We will discuss the situation in Ireland in December, and that will of course have impacts on the Czech Republic.

Jana Bartošová, spokeswoman for the Czech government: Thank you. Next question, please. If there are no more questions, thank you for your attention. Nashledanou.

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