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4. 9. 2008 10:51

Sep 4, 2008: Statement on Premier Mirek Topolánek´s non-participation in TV Prima´s Sunday programme

On Sunday, September 7, 2008 I was supposed to appear as a guest on TV Prima´s current-affairs programme Partie. Its scheduled topic was evaluation of the Government’s activities two years after the elections. In the end, TV Prima has decided to change the originally agreed format – TV presenter versus politician – into a match prior to the forthcoming regional election. That is why I have decided, following an agreement with TV Prima, not to take part in this programme. I deem it useful to substantiate my decision:

First, I categorically reject mixing themes discussed by the Government with the topics of the regional elections. Unlike the opposition, I respect the clear-cut division of powers in the state laid down by the Constitution. If someone wants to tell the citizens that it is possible to influence matters that are in the powers of the Government and the Parliament from a regional position, then I as the Primer Minister refuse to co-participate in such a deception. I refuse to interfere in the forthcoming regional elections in such an incorrect fashion. I refuse to sacrifice matter-of-fact communication on the Government’s activities to a regional election campaign that is in no way connected with it.

I hold the view that as far as the regional election is concerned, politicians who are running in it and who are otherwise in the shadow of national politics should be given their chance. First and foremost, I am responsible for the Government and for the communication of its results to the general public. For this purpose, I have been using all the means available. TV debates which have changed into pre-election slanging matches are not such forums. I have been recently exposed to mounting pressure to appear in such programmes without any rules, without decency and without arguments. But I reject that as I have clearly declared. I am prepared at any time to give accounts of my administration and explain the Government’s policy. But I am not prepared to increase ratings of a TV station and take part in a debate in which lies, demagogy, audacity and an ability to offend and attack the opponent prevail. In such disciplines I can never win over my opponents.

I unequivocally prefer the style of one-on-one interviews, usual in the world, where politicians are exposed to a tough but correct confrontation from a news presenter. In actual fact, such duels give the citizens much more genuine information and not only negative emotions. This is the type of programming in which I am willing to appear at any time, just as I appear on the radio or give newspaper interviews.

Mirek Topolánek, Prime Minister

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