Press Conferences

23. 9. 2006 14:55

Special press briefing of the Prime Minister of the Czech Republic, Mr. Mirek Topolánek, regarding the security situation in Prague on 23 September 20

Radim Ochvat, Prime Minister’s personal secretary: Ladies and gentlemen, welcome at the special press briefing regarding the security situation in Prague. Let me give the floor to Mr. Mirek Topolánek, the Prime Minister of the Czech Republic.

Mirek Topolánek, Prime Minister of the Czech Republic: Ladies and gentlemen, by way of introduction I would like to say that most of the information that you could receive was provided to you at the press conference of the Minister of the Interior and the Police President, Mr. Husák. I would shortly reiterate that last night the Government received from the Czech security agencies, intelligence agencies and the police quite substantial and quite fresh information concerning the increased risk of an act of terrorism in the territory of the city of Prague, associated with the increased risk in the neighbouring countries. The information was of an absolutely essential nature and has changed, in a principal way I would say, the approach of the Czech Government to this issue. The state’s security agencies directly demanded that the Cabinet should hold a meeting, which took place at 08.00 p.m. here in the Straka Academy and was attended by the Chairmen of the Defence Committee and the Security Committee, Messrs. Vidím and Bublan. At the same time, the information was provided to the principal constitutional officials of the Czech Republic, including President Klaus. Mr. Vlček as Chairman of the Chamber of Deputies and Mr. Sobotka as the Chairman of the Senate. After the Cabinet’s meeting – and I find it proper for you to know – the information was released to the chairpersons of all parliamentary political parties; I talked to all of them personally, with the exception of Mr. Filip. I wish to assure all citizens, and inhabitants of the city of Prague in particular, that the police and intelligence agencies are acting in a very professional manner and are undertaking all necessary measures required for the threat to be eliminated without interfering with the citizens’ privacy and freedoms in any manner whatsoever. The discussion of the Cabinet was not quite about whether the measures will be undertaken or not, as of course the measures are in the remit of the appropriate agencies and the Minister of the Interior, but rather how the general public should be informed as inhabitants of Prague would undoubtedly notice the strengthened presence of the police. The Minister of the Interior assured me personally that the operation was launched smoothly and was running without any problems. We firmly believe that the measures in combination with the publicity will be strongly preventative and that the preventative effect will have a significant impact on elimination of the threat. We will keep the public regularly informed via security agencies, and the Government, including myself, will comment on the situation to a very limited extent, leaving the publicity issues to the police or, as the case may be, the Ministry of the Interior. I believe that at present there is no time for some cheap pre-election gestures. I would like to appreciate the approach of most of the parliamentary political parties and of the aforesaid chairmen of the Security Committee and the Defence Committee, Messrs. Bublan and Vidím. I refuse to accept any irresponsible disparagement of the situation; believe me, if I could, I would dearly like to not inform the public. However, we found it very irresponsible to have increased police presence in the streets without informing the public. That is all you will get from me, and I would say that all details will be provided by Police President Husák or by the Minister if the Interior. Now your questions please.

Eva Souhradová, Czech TV: Jiří Paroubek’s reaction to the situation is that the information is already three weeks old and the Government’s response was belated.

Mirek Topolánek, Prime Minister of the Czech Republic: Jiří Paroubek behaves as he has always behaved; this is very irresponsible of him as it was me who told him that we had received some general information three weeks ago. Nonetheless, the initial information was of general intelligence nature, and only yesterday’s information resulted in the security agencies’ request for the Cabinet meeting. [Paroubek’s] conduct does not surprise me at all, and it is exactly what I have referred to at the end of my speech here.

Eva Souhradová, Czech TV: There have been speculations that the attack may target places with a high concentration of civilians and tourists, is that so?

Mirek Topolánek, Prime Minister of the Czech Republic: I will naturally not confirm or deny this. You certainly figured out already at the press conference held at the Police Presidium with the Minister of the Interior that you received exactly that amount of information the police were willing to release.

Radim Ochvat, Prime Minister’s personal secretary: The last question please.

Eva Souhradová, Czech TV: How will the citizens cope with this information?

Mirek Topolánek, Prime Minister of the Czech Republic: When the NATO Summit was held in the Czech Republic, or at the time of any large scale event, including sport events, the security measures were of course similar and the people fully accepted them. If however they are not informed, in a situation when higher numbers of police officers or even military technology are present in the streets, that would be irresponsible of us. [People] should act normally, we believe that no imminent danger threatens at this particular moment, and the measures undertaken thus far are quite adequate to the information received by the Government from the intelligence service.

Radim Ochvat, Prime Minister’s personal secretary: Ladies and gentleman, thank you for your attention. Good bye.

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