Press Conferences

9. 7. 200813:28

Press Conference after the Meeting of the Government, Held on Wednesday 9th July 2008

Jana Bartošová, Government spokesperson: Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the press conference after the meeting of the government. Let me welcome the Prime Minister , Mr. Mirek Topolánek and the Minister of Education, Youth and Physical Training, Mr. Ondřej Liška is just coming. I give the floor to the Prime Minister now.

Mirek Topolánek, Prime Minister of the Czech Republic: I will begin with a different thing, now I cannot find it... I promised to speak to my ministers and other employees of ministries, and it is scheduled as follows: on 10th June I will be at the ministry of Martin Říman, press conference is scheduled for 10 o'clock. Then I will be visiting the Ministry of Interior, press conference should be at 11:45. Then I will be at the ministry of Ondřej Liška, press conference should be at 11:30. Then I will be at the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs and I will be speaking to Petr Nečas, press conference will be held at 13:15. At the Ministry of Transport is the press conference scheduled for 15:00. On 15th July I will be at the Ministry of Finance, press conference is scheduled for 13:00, on 21st July I will be speaking to Alexandr Vondra, press conference will be held at 9:00, and at 10:45 will be press conference held at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. On 22nd July I will be at the ministry of Petr Gandalovič, press conference is scheduled for nine o'clock, and at the ministry of Jiří Čunek the press conference will be held at eleven o'clock. On 23rd July I will be speaking to Martin Bursík, press conference will be held at 15:15. The other ministries will be visited in August. The second introductory information concerns the institutional and media preparation of members of the government for the Czech presidency of the EU Council. People who will train members of the government form something like a dream team. Training will be performed by former Commissionaires, former Deputy Chairman and people from the entire Europe. So, we are trying to prepare ourselves well for the presidency. As to today's agenda, there were a lot of item there but they were not very interesting from the media point of view. There were standard materials on it. We debated the Bill on Insurance; we wound up the State Cultural Fund. Item submitted by Minister Liška will be presented by him. We took negative stands to five proposals of deputies, which were something like a pre-election package of absolutely populist proposals. We debated two, four, five, altogether six audit conclusions of the Supreme Audit Office. I should say that we were praised by the President of the Supreme Audit Office, Mr. Dohnal for marked improvement in the sphere of assessment of those audit conclusions, taking remedial measures, and control activities aimed at their observance. We discussed the Strategy of Education and Sustainable Development. We discussed the Multi-Ministerial Conception of International Research and Development Cooperation. These are items of the agenda which will be presented by Minister Liška. We approved the procedure applied by the Czech republic when terminating agreements on mutual support and protection of investments concluded by the Czech Republic with member states of the European Union, we approved the Development Strategy of Services for Information Society, the Recommendation of the Government Council for Senior Citizens and Ageing of Population to Support of Global Conference in 2010, the Proposal of Staffing Provisions of the Czech Development Agency from the point of view of one of priorities of the government – to centralize development aid. We also discussed the decision on denationalization of the Prague Airport, establishment of a joint-stock company with 100% share of the state and also lots of other points. So, it was not very interesting for media from my point of view. I will give the floor to Ondřej Liška.

Ondřej Liška, Minister of Education, Youth and Physical Training: Good afternoon, Mr. Prime Minister, I will briefly present items of the agenda which were submitted today by the Ministry of Education. The first one was the Draft Government Order amending the Government order no. 689/2004 Coll. on System of Fields of Study in Primary, Secondary and Higher Secondary Education. Translated to the practical language, it means that the Educational Act laid down basis for an essential change in the sphere of educational programmes, based on which the number of fields of study will be reduced and for new, more complex fields of study, framework education programmes will be introduced according to which the individual schools will prepare their own educational programmes. At present, 82 framework educational programmes are prepared in the sphere of general secondary education, and for their introduction this Government Order was necessary, because new fields of study were included in the entire system and simultaneously some of the existing fields of study were deleted. It is a measure which is to help our labour market and our educational system. That was information on one of those items of the agenda. Further item, apart from the Standpoint of the Ministry of Education, Youth and Physical Training to the Audit Conclusion of the Supreme Audit Office, is an important material; I mean the proposal of multi-ministerial conception of international cooperation in the sphere of research and development. This material is a complementary material to one of the priorities of the government and it is a massive support of research and development. This conception is to markedly contribute to the development in this sphere, to enhancement of competitiveness of the Czech Republic, to removal of barriers between research institutions and the private sector and also to open tertiary education – universities - to cooperation with these partners. Further complementary reform in this sphere is the reform of tertiary education which is being prepared at my ministry, and this multi-ministerial conception is further important stone in the entire mosaic. The conception is linked to the European research space, to European policy in this sphere and it concerns in particular the support of mobility of research workers, making great infrastructural facilities accessible for Czech research workers. It also concerns the cooperation of Czech research institutions with the industrial sphere through the programmes EUREKA and EUROSTARS, the support of participation in certain international research institutions, for example in the European Space Agency, member of which we became yesterday. This conception also concerns the support of our participation in great international joint ventures. These new projects of research and development are so important and costly that even big and rich countries cannot afford to act on their own initiative and fund it from their own budgets. Therefore it is important for Europe and also in the global scale to create good conditions for the international cooperation in this sphere, and this government does its best, so that the Czech Republic would be an equipollent partner of other countries in the field of research, development, and innovations. I regard this document as very important and it is possible to expect this year that this government will take further steps both in the sphere of tertiary education and in the field of research, development and innovations. The last document is the Strategy of Education and Sustainable Development of the Czech Republic for 2008-2015. It is a material which results from our international commitments and it summarizes the sphere of the environmental education. Thank you.

Jana Bartošová, Government spokesperson: I thank the Minister of Education. I just add that we will publish a press release concerning visits of the Prime Minister at the individual ministries with exact time schedule. Thank you.

Mirek Topolánek, Prime Minister of the Czech Republic: I have one more thing to add. The facts mentioned by Ondřej Liška on the support of research, development and the tertiary education, will be reflected in the new Act no. 130 on Research and Development, on which we are intensively working and it is currently in the final phase of the comment procedure. It will be important for part of the reform of research and development, which was approved by the Council of the Government for Research and Development in the last weeks. I would like to add to it that all the activities of ours, whether they are connected with our accession to the ESA, with framework agreement with the USA on research and development in defence industry, with the agreement with the Prime Minister Olmert on Czech-Israeli research fund and range of quite concrete steps for example cooperation with Japan. This is the way we want to follow and thus we want to reach our goals included in materials that were approved today.

Jana Bartošová, Government spokesperson: I thank the Prime Minister. Now there is time for your question.

Mirek Topolánek, Prime Minister of the Czech Republic: I would like to ask you for stating your name and your employer, please.

Tomáš Pancíř, Z1 TV: I would like to ask a question on the State Cultural Fund. Could you recapitulate why did you decide to wind it up, and why did not you decide to inject new life into it? What will you do with those buildings which were under its administration, for example with the National House at Vinohrady. And the second question concerns different subject. Did the government solve possible response to those Russian threats concerning possible ratification of the agreement on the radar?

Mirek Topolánek, Prime Minister of the Czech Republic: I regard the wind-up of that fund as quite formal matter. The fund was empty in fact and every partial matter will be solved individually. As to the second question, I would say that five weeks before the forty-year anniversary of the occupation of Czechoslovakia by the Soviet troops and troops of the Warsaw Pact to listen to sentences of a Russian general and former scout on bombing the Czech Republic as something that is not worth mentioning.

Jana Bartošová, Government spokesperson: Thank you. I ask for questions relating to the agenda of the meeting of the government first.

Jan Hreňo, Czech TV: I would like to ask the Prime Minister on the privatization of the Prague Airport., or on the transformation to the joint-stock company. Was the total amount really those 35 billion crowns, it means 25 billion crowns and 10 billion of liabilities? And what will remain in the old state-owned company?

Mirek Topolánek, Prime Minister of the Czech Republic: After deduction of liabilities it will be really those 25 billion crowns and some small change. As to liabilities, they are common liabilities resulting from business activities, I do not know it exactly; it is rather a question for Miroslav Kalousek. The old company will contain unsettled restitutions; it means lands and some other property which should not burden the new company. They will be settled within the old enterprise. It is a standard procedure.

Jan Hreňo, Czech TV: Does it concern land of the company of Penta, which bought some pieces of land for a landing runway? What do you intend to do with them?

Mirek Topolánek, Prime Minister of the Czech Republic: I do not know. You are asking a silly question, I must say. I have a feeling that as far as those pieces of land are concerned, we approved a commission for the Minister of Finance at the last meeting of the government, and the minister is to prepare contract on the purchase of those pieces of land. So, if those pieces of land are purchased, they will become property of the new joint-stock company, but you had better ask Miroslav Kalousek. It is beyond my resolution. And you did not tell me your name.

Jan Hreňo, Czech TV: I did.

Mirek Topolánek, Prime Minister of the Czech Republic: So, I have forgotten it.

Jan Hreňo, Czech TV: Jan Hreňo, the Czech TV.

Mirek Topolánek, Prime Minister of the Czech Republic: I see. Thank you. So, I simply do not know it and I am interested in the systemic solution, so that it would be done correctly. I really do not study in detail which items of the property will remain, excuse me.

Vít Smrčka, Z1 TV: I would like to ask whether you debated the National Programme of Regeneration of Brownfields, and one more question relating to it – what will be funding of that programme like?

Mirek Topolánek, Prime Minister of the Czech Republic: Yes, we have debated the material which resulted from our commitments of 2006, when the Minister of Industry and Trade concluded contracts between the company of Hyundai and various government organizations; so, he submitted a report but those brownfields will be solved in a different way. They will be solved in the framework of the operational programme which is administered by the Ministry of Environment. And the entire programme of brownfields, or former companies which do not operate any longer as Karel Schwarzenberg correctly tried to find a Czech equivalent, is solved just in this operational programme. It is funded from the entire package of operational programmes of the Ministry of Environment. Further material which will concern this issue is the material which is being prepared by the Ministry of Environment in cooperation with the Ministry of Agriculture and it concerns land. There is no problem with funding there. This material did not include proposal for funding.

Jana Bartošová, Government spokesperson: Thank you, further question, please.

Mirek Topolánek, Prime Minister of the Czech Republic: It has already been solved.

Martin Petříček, Czech News Agency: Good afternoon, I would like to ask a question concerning the exchange of shares, which are owned by the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs; I mean shares of the company of Pražská energetika to shares of the ČEZ. This issue was on the agenda in the part "To be considered without debate", as I think.

Mirek Topolánek, Prime Minister of the Czech Republic: If it was among points which were not debate, then there was not any problem there. I will not answer such detailed questions any longer, excuse me. There were no problems there; the exchange had been preparing for a long time. It was approved.

Jana Bartošová, Government spokesperson: The Právo daily, please.

Oldřich Danda, Právo: Good afternoon, I would like to ask the Prime Minister whether he talked to Mr. Schwarzenberg about that audit, which was already available. Will you express your opinion on it? Have you prepare any strategy and the second matter ...

Mirek Topolánek, Prime Minister of the Czech Republic: I?

Oldřich Danda, Právo: Whether you talked to Mr. Schwarzenberg and whether he informed you about it? The second question concerns your attitude to the fact that Mr. Čunek took his leave in time when the government held its meeting.

Mirek Topolánek, Prime Minister of the Czech Republic: I am tempted to finish this press conference; nevertheless, you deserve at least my brief answer. This is not my problem. I did not read that audit. I did not feel necessity to speak to Karel Schwarzenberg about it and I should say that I am not interested in the audit's results. You are interested in them, read them. Jiří Čunek informed me about his intention to take his leave, by the way because of it would be him, who would remain here as the 1st Deputy Prime Minister during the regular governmental leave, and he would fulfil tasks which resulted from the absence of the Prime Minister. So, his regular leave is in compliance with our agreement.

Jana Bartošová, Government spokesperson: Thank you, the Czech TV, please.

Mirek Topolánek, Prime Minister of the Czech Republic: Despite taking leave, somebody should remain and work, should not he? This is our practice. Perhaps it is not practice of your editorial department but in our case it is like this.

Jan Hreňo, Czech TV: One more question, if you allow, Mr. Prime Minister. It concerns the Supreme Audit Office (NKU), which has been operating for 14 years. What is your opinion, on its activities; are audit conclusions relevant for the government?

Mirek Topolánek, Prime Minister of the Czech Republic: It perhaps escaped my attention that on 5th June was the five-year anniversary of the death of the first President of the Supreme Audit Office who set his seal on this office; in spite of the fact that he was a member, and very important member, of the ODS, he set tradition of independence, erudition professionalism of the office. Thus the Supreme Audit Office became during those first ten years an institution which satisfied expectations of those who had establish it as a standard mechanism of the control of the state and public administration. I should say that the President Dohnal continues in that tradition and the cooperation, after entering my office, was above-standard and it would be best to ask him about it. The institution is able to identify both partial errors, which result from personal faults, and systemic errors which result from legislative or executive shortcomings. The main feature of the practice which I introduced is that we are not satisfied with the fact that a ministry takes note of the audit conclusion, as it was common in times of the Paroubek´s cabinet; at every meeting of the government we really require very detailed and concrete conclusions including specifying responsibility of concrete persons, proposals for systemic changes including the respective deadlines. These deadlines are controlled consequently. The President of the Supreme Audit Office, after those six points which were debated today, paid us a compliment. He said that the cooperation during those two years was really above-standard, after his three-year experience, and that thing went in the right direction. I have nothing to say to this. I am of the opinion that the Supreme Audit Office should have extended powers, which great number of mayors and regional commissioners will not like it. I am of the opinion that the Supreme Audit Office should deal with the state and public administration, down to the level of municipalities, whether it would be within its own competence or delegated competence. I think it would increase transparency of the entire society and in this respect I have opinion which differs from opinions of most of my colleagues.

Jana Bartošová, Government spokesperson: I thank the Prime Minister. Mladá fronta, please.

Josef Kopecký, MfDnes: Mr. Prime Minister, what do you concretely expect from those visits of the individual ministers? What should be conclusions of those visits like? Some time ago, you spoke about something like reshuffle, which was inspired by Great Britain. Do you expect some new distribution of chairs in the government?

Mirek Topolánek, Prime Minister of the Czech Republic: I expect I will be able to assess fulfilment of projects by the individual ministers of the government after that nearly half-time of our governance. I will be able to assess their failures, their reasons and what can be managed by the end of the election period. I will lay accent in particular on tasks of horizontal character. I mean reduction of administrative burden, reduction of regulations, fulfilment of those tasks which concerns all ministers: lowering of number of employees, issues concerning useless institutions receiving contributions from the State Budget organizations and the entire burden. I expect my own knowing on certain issues which I may have ignored; knowing of the general public on meeting targets of the individual ministries as far as meeting of the Programme Declaration is concerned. I will be good for setting further direction, specification of problems which should be solved. I do not regard personal changes as necessary now; that reshuffle consists mainly in the evaluation, in that assessment. In case I find a significant fault, I cannot exclude that reshuffle; nevertheless the reshuffle perhaps will not take place. But I anticipate what I am not able to know now.

Josef Kopecký, MfDnes: If you allow me to ask another question, you said you were not very interested in the results of the audit which Mr. Karel Schwarzenberg had had done. But still, are not you afraid of certain changes in the cabinet which might result from that audit; that certain minister might decide not to be a member of this government?

Mirek Topolánek, Prime Minister of the Czech Republic: I would say that these are exogenous influences which cannot be influenced by me. I regard it as a problem of Jiří Čunek and Karel Schwarzenberg and I have always perceived it like this; I am not going to interfere in it. I contributed to the fact that there is a possibility of reaching an agreement; nevertheless, I will not urge anybody to leave the cabinet and I will not prevent anybody from leaving the cabinet if he/she wants to leave. I will certainly not instigate Karel Schwarzenberg to leave the cabinet. I am very content with his work at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and I hope that also overwhelming majority of inhabitants is content.

Jana Bartošová, Government spokesperson: Thank you, are there any other questions? Thank you for your attention and good-bye.