Press Conferences

6. 11. 200816:11

Prime Minister M. Topolánek's press conference with Swedish Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt 6. 11. 2008

Jakub Stadler, Press Department Deputy Director: Ladies and gentlemen, a pleasant early evening to you from the press briefing after the meeting of the Prime Minister of the Czech Republic, Mirek Topolánek, with the Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Sweden, Mr. Frederik Reinfeldt. I will now hand the floor over to Mr. Mirek Topolánek.

Mirek Topolánek, Prime Minister of the Czech Republic: It must be said that the main reason why we are meeting - despite the fact that we will see each other tomorrow at the summit in Brussels - is to discuss the Czech and Swedish presidencies and a certain end to the "Tour de Capital," in which we began discussion with all heads of state of the European 27 before our presidency. After Mati Vanhanen, Frederik Reinfeldt is here today, and Jan Peter Belkenende and Ferenc Gyurczány are still to come, and I will visit Rasmussen and visit Malta. As a small country in the run-up to the presidency, which is an historic first, I would even say we have a certain amount of responsibility for the wider region, so we must be well prepared, so that we create ties amongst ourselves, so that we do not resolve agendas separately, but in relation to each other. Today we discussed the Czech and Swedish presidencies of course, and points in common relating to issues of migration and asylum, issues related to the Lisbon agenda, the competitiveness of our companies, and relating to EU expansion, because we hope that we will finish the talks on individual chapters with Croatia, and undoubtedly it will be Sweden who will finish this process. Both countries support Turkey's accession. We expect very complicated discussions on that as well. I informed my colleague about certain delays in the Lisbon Treaty's ratification process; we are not able to give any precise date. As part of a discussion with opposition leader Jiří Paroubek, we made a commitment to not delay this process in any way. We discussed energy and climate, our approach to the Council meeting in December and discussions about these materials, and we discussed revisions to the budget and an entire range of related issues on which we feel very similarly. The great advantage of our two countries is that we have a very similar approach to an entire range of issues, and for this reason, it can be said of our presidencies that there is a smooth continuity, which is also a result of today's meeting.

Jakub Stadler, Press Department Deputy Director: Thank you, Mr. Czech Prime Minister, and now I will yield the floor to the Swedish Prime Minister.

Frederik Reinfeldt, Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Sweden: Thank you. We've already met several times. We have the next presidency after this one, and it is our special responsibility to combine the transition between the presidencies of our two states.

Tomorrow we will meet in Brussels to discuss the financial crisis. I come from the point of view that Europe's response will be wise and balanced towards the risks we face, so that we develop a response to the financial turbulence, and aside from that, it speaks against our implementation of new rules for accounting and greater regulation.

We must also adhere to the fact that we must continue with the Lisbon Treaty. There are two states that have not as yet ratified the treaty. We hope that Sweden will do so this month. Then what will happen in Ireland will be decisive. We must be clear that this is a basic agreement for years to come and we must discuss how the Commission will be set up, as well as the way we prepare for the transition that will occur after the Lisbon Treaty is ratified. We have a wide range of agendas in common.

The Lisbon Treaty is important, but so is our ability to be competitive in the world, where demand is falling in individual economies. We must discuss competitiveness in Europe. We must discuss climate strategy. We hope that it can be implemented, that agreement can be found during the French presidency in December, and that the Czech Republic leads the final talks and we will try to sign the agreement in Copenhagen. We have a common view on certain aspects of our strategy toward countries to the east of the EU's borders, as well as on the continuation of European Union enlargement, defending the position and moving the talks forward with Croatia. We will also be considering a step further, towards Turkey, and possibly there will be a situation during our presidency where a number of other countries will express interest in joining the European Union. We discussed these issues partially, and we will discuss them tonight.

Jakub Stadler, Press Department Deputy Director: Thank you to both prime ministers, and now I would like to ask for your questions. The Swedish journalists first.

Question: Some countries are expressing doubt about whether the Czech Republic will have its time leading the European Union. What do you think, Mr. Prime Minister Topolánek? Which problems do you see? For example, what do you think about the climate-energy package and other issues that are currently being discussed in connection with the Czech presidency of the European Union?

Mirek Topolánek, Prime Minister of the Czech Republic: I think that my relatively quick visit with Nicolas Sarkozy a week ago clearly showed that it is not at all in the interest of certain countries, but instead had to do with speculation from journalists that was possibly given life due to the fact that we had elections here and the governing coalition lost those elections. I would like to add that it is relatively common that a governing party lose elections on the regional or local level at the halftime of their government. The Czech Republic will be well-prepared for the presidency and if we were to look at the French presidency, at the ambitions of the French president and finally at the problems he had to resolve, such as Georgia or the financial crisis, we too are prepared to resolve issues that are not on the agenda. We have been preparing for two years and we will undoubtedly do well. As far as the details for the talks, I do not think that we will be the most problematic country with regard to the climate-energy package. We have completely clear doubts about the 100 % circulation of auctions for the energy system. This reason is evident. Coal's 60 % share in the production of electric energy will decline by 2040, but it will still have an fundamental influence on the energy mix. This means that our great pressure and interest is in having the permit auctions start gradually, not 100 % from the beginning of 2013. This interest is legitimate. It is an interest that money for investment remain in this sector. On the other hand, the environment could improve by the fact that we will invest into new technology, into clean coal technologies, or possibly into the modernization of those operations that are polluters today. For those other questions, I don't see that we would be causing any problems. We are always interested in rational solutions to the financial crisis, and we will more likely deal with its economic impacts; we will deal with the cooling of the European economy, because I would say that because of the size of the Czech Republic's exports, with the openness of the economies of those countries, we will undoubtedly have to deal with a decline in demand by increasing the tools on the supply side of the economy. And in this regard, we are prepared to take an entire range of steps and we will most certainly protest against unnecessary regulations that will continue to complicate things for the financial sector.

Jakub Stadler, Press Department Deputy Director: Thank you, Mr. Prime Minister.

Frederik Reinfeld, Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Sweden: I would like to say that a presidency should always be evaluated after, and not before, they have occurred.

Jakub Stadler, Press Department Deputy Director: Thank you, and we still have Swedish Television.

Question: Could you please repeat a bit about what you said regarding concerns over small Member States not taking part in the eurozone meeting, that they were not part of the decision-making process. Do you perceive ties between the things that are being talked about?

Mirek Topolánek, Prime Minister of the Czech Republic: I do not feel that I must repeat something. I have no fears about the Czech presidency and do not feel that a small country can handle the presidency any less than a large one. European countries are divided along different lines, such as whether the country is more or less liberal, or whether the country has a greater or lesser share of agriculture. I do not feel that size itself decides the quality of the presidency for the country, and history has shown this many times. I do not see this as a problem.

Jakub Stadler, Press Department Deputy Director: Thank you, Mr. Swedish Prime Minister will add to that. I guess he does not want to. I would like to ask for the final question from the Swedish side. Then the questions from the Czech side will follow.

Question: I would like to ask about the radar and its placement in the Czech Republic. After the elections in America as well as after the announcement we heard from President Medvedev, what would you like to say? What are your opinions and reactions to the situation related to the radar at present?

Mirek Topolánek, Prime Minister of the Czech Republic: I think that neither the American elections nor the comments of the Russian president will change the fact that the agreement is signed and is going through the standard constitutional ratification process. I have no doubts at all about the new American administration continuing with a project that was begun by Bill Clinton roughly 10 years ago. That is the building of the anti-missile defence against long-range shots. The Czech Republic's intention to take part in this project, which will be part of NATO's third pillar of anti-missile defence, is our share in the common collective defense. Our expression shows a certain amount of gratitude that we can be on the right side and that we belong under the protective wing of this defensive pact, and I see no problem in this regard. The problem is rather geopolitical. It is related to the Russian Federation's certain, and I would say rediscovered, assertive policy. This is not only related to Georgia and the potential problems in the frozen conflicts in Trans-Dnistria and elsewhere, such as the Crimea. It is related to former countries that, due to the Yalta and Tehran conferences, that have belonged in the long term to the Russian sphere of influence, and with its return to its position as a great power, the Russian Federation takes this very seriously and intends not to lose its influence in "its" former sphere of influence. A certain pressure from the Russian Federation's leaders is given mainly by geopolitical aspects, not military, defense, security or other aspects.

Jakub Stadler, Press Department Deputy Director: Thank you. A question from the Czech side. Please.

Petr Janeček, Czech Television: Mr. Prime Minister, I would like to ask abut things related to the Lisbon Treaty. You mentioned here and recently admitted that the Lisbon Treaty would be voted on and discussed after the vote on the radar agreement. Can you explain this?

Mirek Topolánek, Prime Minister of the Czech Republic. Mr. Editor, this is not my problem at all. The government is not the institution that is delaying the ratification of the Lisbon Treaty in any way. Together with other heads of state, we signed it at the Jerónimos Monastery in Lisbon, where my name is literally carved out of a stone in front of that monastery; I have no intention of sandblasting it off. At the moment when a request came from parliament to the Constitutional Court to express an opinion on the Treaty, the government filed an explanation to the court that you can read for yourself. I do not have the feeling that this was negative. From the government's position, there is nothing that would prevent ratification, and if you ask about the parliament, please ask the MPs and senators who after 25 November will discuss and possibly ratify this agreement according to the rules of discussion. I have expressed my doubts about whether we want to make it by the legal deadline; the Constitutional Court will not have its final verdict by 25 November. Therefore it will be impossible to ratify this agreement through normal means this year. That is all I can say about that.

Petr Janecek, Czech Television: If I can continue, the chairman of the European Parliament's constitutional committee expressed his concern that if the agreement is not ratified, it could weaken the Czech presidency. Can you comment on that?

Mirek Topolánek, Prime Minister of the Czech Republic: You must know that as a rule I do not comment on the statements of others who did not tell things to me face to face.

Jakub Stadler, Press Department Deputy Director: Thank you, Mr. Prime Minister. One last question from the Czech side.

Právo newspaper: A question for the Swedish Prime Minister: As far as I know, last month two MPs proposed a law on a referendum on the common currency in Sweden. I would like to ask: Do you see this as being realistic? Or will you wait to see what they say in Denmark, where the mood for the euro is certainly more acceptable than in Sweden?

Frederik Reinfeldt, Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Sweden: A clear result came from the referendum in 2003. We did not have any indication of a change of opinion in 2003. There may have been a shift, but nonetheless it would be a shift of smaller importance. As far as other countries go, as they join the euro, of course this is an issue for Denmark and other countries. The government clearly stated that it would not occur in this period, at least to 2010. It will be for another term, and that is a question for the future. A new referendum will have to be held, and an agreement will have to be reached, for example, within my coalition and definitely with the Social Democrats in Sweden.

Jakub Stadler, Press Department Deputy Director: Thank you to both prime ministers for your answers, and thank you for your questions and attention. Goodbye.