Press Conferences

23. 10. 2007 13:18

The Press conference of the Prime-Minister of the ČR Mirek Topolánek and the Minister of Defence of the United States Robert Gates, held on October 23

Martin Schmarcz, The Office of the Cabinet of the ČR: Ladies and Gentlemen, I welcome you at the press briefing held after the meeting of the Prime-Minister of the ČR Mr Topolánek and the Minister of Defence of the United States Mr Gates. At the beginning the participants of the meeting will inform you about its course. Prime-Minister Topolánek will be the first to begin.
Mirek Topolánek, the Prime-Minister of the ČR: Thank you for the right to begin. Good day. U think that it is significant that I spent breakfast with Romanian Foreign Minister, lunch with the Minister of Defence Gates and dinner with the Vice-Premier of the Russian Government Naryshkin. It has connection with many things but also it relates to political importance of the Czech republic in the foreign policy and also to the fact that the whole range of interests and objectives are meeting here. Together with the Minister, and it was not his only meeting in the ČR, we discussed the whole scale of questions, and obviously one of the principal ones was the location of anti-missile defence on the Czech territory as our common interest and the case which is the subject of joint negotiations at this moment, and therefore, I must bring forward several closing remarks to this point. I think, and I shall leave it to the Minister himself to inform you about these conclusions, that we discussed principally several problems. There are certain risks on the basis of which we decided to situate this system in Europe. Second, it is far more important problem of co-operation and discussion with the Russin federation at the level of NRC and also at other levels. Third, it is the joint position of the NATO now prepared for the Bucharest summit. Fourth, it is the general solution of the defence against short, medium and long-range missiles. I think that the discussion, which has not touched the anti-missile defence directly, dealt with the whole range of our common activities. We discussed Kosovo and its region. We discussed Afghanistan and our interest to build PRT in Logar. We discussed the vast number of other questions but I must admit that the discussion concerning anti-missile defence has dominated in our discussion. Now I would like to leave the floor to the Minister Gates.
Mr Robert Gates, the Minister of Defence of the USA : I would like to express my thanks to the Prime-Minister and the Minister of Defence for the fact that I could visit them. Although I have concentrated a great deal of my life-career on this part of the world, this is my first visit to Prague. And also I would like very much to thank the Czech Republic and its citizens for their support during several recent years and also for the contributions made in connection with deployment in Iraq and Afghanistan. We very much appreciate this effort . We were also very pleased by the fact that the Czech Republic has recently decided to create its own Provincial Reconstruction Team in Afghanistan and we shall welcome any future contributions or other forms of assistance in that country. As the Premier has said, one of the main subjects of our today´s meeting was anti-missile defence. I assume that progress has been attained today as well. I informed the Premier and the Minister of Defence about results and course of negotiations that which I recently had in Moscow together with the Foreign Minister Rice. We still continue to encourage Russia to have a partnership with us in anti-missile defence problems. And we continue to assure them that these facilities are not aimed against Russia and that the Russia itself can have some benefit from these facilities. A component part of our efforts is also the fact that we permanently discuss all matters with them in order to secure transparency and their access to information concerning these facilities. We unambiguously informed the Russian side that we shall continue in negotiations with the Czech Republic and Poland and if those negotiations are terminated we shall move forward to the potential deployment of these facilities. During our conversation today I also mentioned that we might examine the possibilities how to enable the Russian side the access to these facilities within the framework of enlargement of transparency. We would first discuss all these proposals with the Czech Republic before submitting them to the Russian side. I would like to stress once more that nothing would happen in this matter without the consent of the Czech Government. I also informed my Czech colleagues that we shall discuss this issue during next days in the meeting of the NATO Ministers of Defence. It is our desire that, as we hope, during the summit in Bucharest the next year the resolution will be approved that the NATO will continue to work on development of its anti-missile defence against the missiles of short and medium-range which will be compatible and will form the one side whereas the other side will be anti-missile defence against the long-range missiles. Our target is the integrated system which would protect all Member States of the Alliance against imminent danger as are, for example, Iranian guided missiles. And it is my great pleasure to announce that in the recent past both Foreign Ministers and Defence Ministers of the NATO Alliance took a positive standpoint towards this approach. In the past the Czech Republic and the United States have intensely collaborated in solution of great challenges in the sphere of security and defence and I can say today that our mutual relations are perhaps the narrowest in the history. Thank you.
Martin Schmarcz, The Office of the Cabinet of the ČR: I thank the Premier and the Minister. Now we have about eight minutes reserved for your questions. Firstly they will be questions of the Czech side and then from the American one. The Daily Právo.
Jiří Roškot, The Daily Právo: No question submitted.
Robert Gates, the Minister of Defence of the USA : I am of the opinion that recent proposals concerning anti-missile defence submitted to the Russian side could not in any aspect change the time-schedule of location or deployment of these facilities, as far as this possibility is concerned. The Minister Rice and myself together submitted two proposals to the Russians, of which one I have already mentioned, and that is the facilitation of the access of the Russian side that they can see what happens. And again any step which might be taken in this matter will be first submitted to the Czech Government for approval and without its consent we would not continue. The second proposal made to the Russian side, which, of course is not yet finished, relies on the fact that we would combine the activation of these facilities and their commissioning with conclusive evidence that the Iranian side disposes of such threatening means. In other words, some negotiations would take place similar to the current ones, some agreement would be concluded, these facilities would be built and prepared for the operation but would not be put into operation. The activation itself would not take place until clear evidence of, for example, successful test on the Iranian side.
Martin Schmarcz, The Office of the Cabinet of the ČR: And now American journalist.
The American journalist: No question submitted.
Robert Gates, the Minister of Defence of the USA : Concerning potential access of the Russian side to these facilities I must repeatedly stress that nothing would happen without the consent of the Czech Government. Before we go to the Russian side with anything more prepared for use than it is in the present time, we would submit it to the Czech Government first. As far as the negotiations are concerned we hope that they will be terminated within two months.
Mirek Topolánek, the Prime-Minister of the ČR : To this first question I must add that personally I am convinced that these negotiations with Russia, with the exception of these two quite specific proposals, must be aimed at the discussion within the framework of NRC on interoperability of the whole system and determination of unified interface between management and command. That means the discussion about the Russian Federation that it participates in anti-missile activities. Concerning the schedule I hope that everything will be ready before my journey to the United States which is expected to take place at the beginning of the next year, in February at the latest. I agree with the American Minister of Defence that we could have principal agreements and their parameters ready before the end of this year.
The American journalist: No question submitted.
Mirek Topolánek, the Prime-Minister of the ČR : I feel no need to comment on that.
Martin Schmarcz, The Office of the Cabinet of the ČR: Another question, please.
The editor of the Slovak television : Mr Minister, do you expect that the results of elections in Russia can change your tactics of negotiations in the territories of Poland and the Czech Republic?
Robert Gates, the Minister of Defence of the USA : I hope that certainly no.
American editor: Mr Premier, allow me the question concerning the enlargement of the territory of Czech deployment in Afghanistan and its significance for the Czech Republic and also if the presence of Czech troops in Iraq is more or less symbolic at this moment, or do you think that the number of soldiers deployed in Iraq will be increased?
Mirek Topolánek, the Prime-Minister of the ČR: None of our participations in missions is symbolic, even if we have only observers there. At the present time we are active in Kosovo mission where we shall have up to 550 soldiers. We shall terminate our mission in Bosnia and Herzegovina next year. We shall increase the number of our soldiers and not only soldiers in Afghanistan. From the middle of the next year we shall slightly reduce the number of soldiers in Iraq. The philosophy of this government is not to increase the number of missions but to increase participation in individual missions or to increase participation in these individual missions. However, this intention concerning our involvement in missions in the next year has only been approved by the Cabinet and must be endorsed by the Parliament as well. For us the participation in PRT in Logar is the proof of the fact that it is necessary to be active not only in military but also and primarily in reconstruction and recovery works in these focuses of tension. In this sense our ambition to have PRT in Afghanistan corresponds to this effort.
Robert Gates, the Minister of Defence of the USA: We very much appreciate the decision of the Czech Republic to strengthen its efforts in Afghanistan and it is a very good message for the oncomming conference of the NATO Defence Ministers. It is not only a very good sign that the Czech Republic, as the NATO Member State, will enlarge its deployment in Afghanistan but it is also a very good message because we are in a certain point heading to the road for the demokratic government in Afghanistan and this will help much.
Mirek Topolánek, the Prime-Minister of the ČR : Thank you very much.
Martin Schmarcz, The Office of the Cabinet of the ČR : Ladies and Gentlemen, Thank you.

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