Press Conferences

28. 5. 2008 13:33

Press Conference after the Meeting of the Government, Held on Monday 28th April 2008

Jana Bartošová, Government spokesperson: Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the press conference after the meeting of the government. Allow me to welcome the Prime Minister, Mr. Mirek Topolánek, the Deputy Prime Minister and the Minister of Labour and Social Affairs, Mr. Petr Nečas, the Minister of Industry and Trade, Mr. Martin Říman, and the Minister of Culture, Mr. Václav Jehlička. I ask the Prime Minister, Mr. Mirek Topolánek for his introductory speech.

Mirek Topolánek, Prime Minister of the Czech Republic: Well, I was considering which issue might be interesting for you. I suppose that you might be interested in the fact that we were given information of the Minister of Labour and Social Affairs Petr Nečas on the decision of the Constitutional Court. He will give you more detailed information on it. We agreed we would wait for the written judgement and therefore do not expect any concrete solution of us by that time. When we receive the judgement we will be trying to find a solution and matters will be solved with regard to long-time horizon. Apart from other matters, we debated pronouncement of certain cultural monuments as national cultural monument. Václav Jehlička will inform you about it. Furthermore, we debated a matter which was very important and which concerned the Act on Digitalization. It was the Draft government Order on Technical Plan of Transfer fro Terrestrial Analogue TV Broadcasting to Terrestrial Digital TV Broadcasting. It was necessary to approve it, so that we would have parameters of that act. There were many other issues debated, but I think I mentioned the most interesting ones. That is all from my part.
Jana Bartošová, Government spokesperson: I thank the Prime Minister. Now, the deputy Prime Minister and the Minister of Labour and Social Affairs, Mr. Petr Nečas has the floor.
Petr Nečas, Deputy Prime Minister and the Minister of Labour and Social Affairs: Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. The government, as the Prime Minister has already informed you, was informed of the situation in the sphere of the medical insurance. The government, to its delight, was given information about latest data which we have. In the first quarter of the year the number of sick leave decreased by 28% and number of sick leave days decreased by 11%. The government stated that the new system of the medical insurance with a three-day time period without payments of benefits operated well, and it showed that the system had been misused at a large extent. The drop of number of sick leaves by 260000 in comparison with the last quarter of the last year is not insignificant, at all. The government also decided to wait for the written judgement of the Constitutional Court, because it was just published on the websites of the Constitutional Court. We firmly believe that it is not the right judgement, as this text, to put it in a diplomatic way, is not very well written by the Constitutional Court, and would-be unconstitutional character of that three-day time period without payments of benefits does not arise from this material. The measure, as I have said many times, was introduced in twelve out of fifteen old member countries of the European Union. By the way, all of them have in their laws a similar clause as we have, in fact. It means that a man has a right for social benefit in the retirement age, during sickness or in case of disabilities. In this respect, the judgement of the court is rather strange. Nevertheless, we will thoroughly analyse that judgement, if any. Based on it, we will propose a solution. First of all a short-term solution, it means with a solution which will concern the time period between 1st July and 31st December of this year, and then with a medium-term solution. This solution will take into consideration the fact that starting from 1st January of the next year will be a completely new system introduced, which was not noticed by the Constitutional Court, as we may judge from rather confused statements of the reporter Duchoň. In the new system, the medical insurance benefits will be paid out starting from fifteenth day of sick leave and within this fifteen-day period, ten days will be paid by employers. It means that medium-term solution will have connection with this new system. Then there is also a long-term solution, which is to permanently stabilize the system of the medical insurance in connection with the health insurance. These first proposals will be submitted at the meeting of ministers and to the government in the following weeks. But as I have already said, only after we receive the judgement of the Constitutional Court. This attitude also expressed the Chairman of the Legislative Council of the Government, Minister Svoboda. He stated that it was not possible to do anything until we receive written judgement and written reasoning of the judgement, only these documents may serve as certain basis. I repeat again, that text published on the Internet is so shallow and so sketchy that it would be a problem to regard it as a basis for a solution. For example, one of possible interpretations is that it is not possible to have different benefit in first three days than in the following day. This remarkable standpoint would get us to a situation which had never occurred in our country. Even during social democratic governments, under the communist era, let alone times of the First Republic and Austro-Hungary there always have been a three-day time period with different benefit payments. So, that is the reason why we have to wait for the written judgement, as we are in a situation when the judgement enables several interpretations. It is unfortunately a fact and it results from not quite good and reasoned decision of the Constitutional Court. Thank you.
Jana Bartošová, Government spokesperson: I thank the Deputy Prime Minister. Now, the Minister of Industry and Trade has the floor.
Martin Říman, Minister of Industry and Trade: Good afternoon. I will just say a few words on the technical plan of transfer of the analogue TV broadcasting to the digital TV broadcasting. You know well that this project has been discussed for a long time in the Czech Republic and that there were several proposals for that transfer, which were not quite successful, in fact. Therefore, the government submitted to the Parliament a bill which stipulated the basic parameters of the transfer. The government was also commissioned to work out and to approve its own legal norm – the technical plan of the transfer. This plan was approved by the government today. The basic parameters of the transfer are as follows: The Czech Republic is divided into eleven areas, each of them with its own powerful transmitter. The process of digitalization is based on the gradual implementation of the digital signal in the respective areas. The procedure is, simply said, from the west to the east. Not because we want to discriminate the east of the republic, but because it is necessary to solve the problem of broadcasting in German border areas, so that interferences would not occur there. An important principle is that both analogue and digital broadcasting will be operated concurrently fort six months at least, so that it would be possible to identify those spots with bad signal. The powerful transmitter will cover overwhelming majority of inhabitants; nevertheless, problems may occur in case of distant areas. The process from the west to the east will take place and as I have already said the accomplishment of the transfer will be in November 2011 with two exceptions - transmitters Zlín and Jeseník. It concern transmitters which are in mountainous areas and there have been problems even in time of the analogue broadcasting. And because the concurrent broadcasting will start its operation as the last one, in case of one of network in the Jeseník region in June 2011, then the time period of five months for detection of spots with bad signal would be too short. Therefore, in case of these two transmitters the transfer will be done as late as in June 2012, but just because of technical reasons.
Jana Bartošová, Government spokesperson: I thank the Minister of Industry and trade, and now the Minister of Culture Mr. Václav Jehlička has the floor.
Václav Jehlička, Minister of Culture: Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. I would like to inform you that the government decided today on increasing number of national cultural monuments from existing 201 up to 230 monuments; it means that further 29 national cultural monuments has been pronounced. To give you some more details, there are more than 40000 immovable cultural monuments in the Czech Republic and nearly 50000 movable cultural monuments; some of them have higher standard and are classified in the higher category, which declares their higher value significance. So, there are 201 cultural monuments, majority of them are immovable cultural monuments. The government decided that in each region, with the exception of Prague which has a lot of national cultural monuments, 2-3 monuments were pronounced as national cultural monuments. Now, the list of national cultural monuments will be more balanced as far as territory and typology are concerned. The state entered all its monuments which had under its administration as national cultural monuments in the past years, all castles and chateaus. But some of them were not entered, for example the Český Štemberk castle, which is one of the most significant Czech castles, or the chateau in Nové Město nad Metují. Also certain significant religious monuments, for example the Premonstratensian monastery in Teplá in the Karlovy Vary region or Velehrad monument were not included in the list. We also pronounced certain monuments of modern history as national cultural monuments, for example Red Tower of Death in Ostrov nad Ohří, which was a liquidation place for political prisoners in 1950´, and we also included in the list some of technical monuments, for example hydroelectric power station in Třeštín or a modern functionalistic villa – the Líska´s Villa in Ostrava, which is not a technical monument but it is an example of modern architecture. This list of national cultural monuments is not closed, of course, and we must pay attention to the correct proportions and distribution of national cultural monuments within the Czech Republic. The pronouncement of national cultural monuments was discussed with owners of these monuments; it means that the state did not do anything without their knowledge; it had been discussed with municipalities and regions, and therefore it was the common will of owners, municipalities, regions and the state. Thus, the state shows that it is interested in regions, as pronouncement of national cultural monuments will enhance tourism in palaces which are often forgotten or which are not in the focus of interest of the public. I have a material here which was submitted to the government. Unfortunately, I have only one copy, and so I will let it circulate together with a map and the list. Then it must be returned as it is the only one material which includes all the monuments. But as far as I am informed by my spokesperson, all the necessary documents have been sent to you. I would also like to say that some of those 230 national cultural monuments are in the list of the world cultural heritage of UNECSO. There are 11 of them there, and some monuments are proposed to be included in the list. Thank you for your attention.

Jana Bartošová, Government spokesperson: I thank the Minister of Culture and now there is time for your questions.
TV Prima: I would like to ask the Prime Minister, why Condoleezza Rice will not come. Is it because of her engagement or because of a coincidence with the visit of the Secretary General of NATO? Thank you.
Mirek Topolánek, Prime Minister of the Czech Republic: Well, we finally agreed it would be better to sign both treaties together. It means that in case everything turns out well, and you know that I use conditionals in case of any negotiation as I cannot anticipate their result, both treaties would be signed in the first decade of June. It was finally shown as reasonable, because Condoleezza Rice could be here only for half a day. Therefore, it would be better to come and to sign both treaties together. That was the main reason and I think it was reasonable.

Jana Bartošová, Government spokesperson: Thank you. Ask questions related to the meeting of the government first.
Pokorný, Deník: I have two questions regarding the transfer from to digital broadcasting. The transfer was originally to take place in 2010. Why was it postponed by one year? And the second question – will it be the MPG2 or MPG4 format?
Martin Říman, Minister of Industry and Trade: The postponement is quite natural, because the year 2010 was mentioned one year ago and those negotiations were so complicated that it was necessary to adopt a new law, so that all players on the market would be obliged to participate in this transfer. Therefore it was necessary, because of technical, logistic and organizational reasons, to postpone the deadline. I did not hear your second question.
Pokorný, Deník: Discussions are held on the quality of the broadcasting, whether it will be in the existing standard MPG2 or MPG4.
Martin Říman, Minister of Industry and Trade: In the initial phase it will be in the existing standard.

Czech TV: I would like to ask whether you have any idea when the written judgement of the Constitutional Court could be available.
Petr Nečas, Deputy Prime Minister and the Minister of Labour and Social Affairs: That is a right question but I am not the right person to answer it. I just can say that according to certain information, a standpoint of three judges of the Constitutional Court, Mr. Rychetský, Mrs. Wagnerová and Mr. Musil, was published. I read some parts of it and I should say that I am greatly confused because one does not know whether it is a parody or whether they meant it seriously.
Mirek Topolánek, Prime Minister of the Czech Republic: Well, in the system of competences, the Constitutional Court has right for a final judgement, and therefore it is not possible to protest against unconstitutional character of the judgement of the Constitutional Court. That is the only one problem.
Petr Nečas, Deputy Prime Minister and the Minister of Labour and Social Affairs: The fact that we are convinced that the judgement of the Constitutional Court in unconstitutional, is of no use. It is a reality and we must state that whatever we think of the judgement of the Constitutional Court, we will have to respect it. And we will respect it.

TV Prima: I have one more question concerning this issue. I do not want to tease you, but I was speaking to the spokesperson of the Constitutional Court in the morning and he said it was available on their websites.
Mirek Topolánek, Prime Minister of the Czech Republic: If it is so, then it is very little of it.

Kopecký MF Dnes: I would like to ask whether the government debated and approved the Bill amending the Act on Protection of Species of Wild Fauna. And regarding the list of new national cultural monuments, whether the list was changed during the meeting, if it was abridged or extended or whether it was approved in the submitted version.

Mirek Topolánek, Prime Minister of the Czech Republic: I think I am able to answer both questions. The government approved the Bill on Protection of Species of Wild Fauna, of course, and the list was approved as it had been submitted by the Minister of Culture.
Petr Vašek, Hospodářské noviny: I would like to ask whether the government approved the proposal of deputies concerning the income tax and increase of the limit of income from 38000 up to 68000 for the possibility to exercise rebate of the partner's tax. It was that proposal of Mr. Kvapil and others.
Mirek Topolánek, Prime Minister of the Czech Republic: Our stand to this proposal was more or less neutral. The main reason was that there were certain problem points in the proposal and it would be necessary to amend it during the debate in the Chamber of Deputies. But the main reason was that only with little delay a different government bill was being prepared and therefore our stand to it was neutral. It was proposed correctly, but it would be necessary to debate it together with the government proposal. So, the standpoint is more or less positive in spite of the fact that the official stand is neutral.
Petr Vašek, Hospodářské noviny: One more question – could you say what the government's standpoint included?
Mirek Topolánek, Prime Minister of the Czech Republic: What government's standpoint do you have in your mind - the standpoint of the Legislative Council of the Government?
Petr Vašek, Hospodářské noviny: Yes, or that government proposal about which you were talking.
Mirek Topolánek, Prime Minister of the Czech Republic: If I knew it, I would take Miroslav Kalousek with me. Perhaps Petr Nečas will add something.
Petr Nečas, Deputy Prime Minister and the Minister of Labour and Social Affairs: There are number of clauses there which were omitted by submitters and which we would like to improve. I mean clauses related to families. For example there is not any clause there, unlike the government proposal, which would concern families taking care of disabled children. In such a case, the contribution for care should not be included in the total income. Simply said, that government´s proposal is more advantageous for families.
Radiožurnál: May I ask whether you debated that material submitted by the Minister of Transport concerning the establishment of the inter-ministerial commission for import and export of second-hand cars?
Mirek Topolánek, Prime Minister of the Czech Republic: This issue was among points "To be considered without debate". So, it was approved.
Lidové noviny: Good afternoon, I would like to ask Mr. Minister Říman a question concerning the digital broadcasting. The Czech Telecommunication Office, based on exhaustive measurements, expected the delay by one year; it proposed year 2011 if I am not mistaken. The proposal of the ministry expects year 2012. I would like to know based on what data it was necessary to postpone the last areas by half a year.
Martin Říman, Minister of Industry and Trade: It is quite simple. Some areas, in particular in the western part of the republic have a possibility to be covered concurrently. It concerns for example Ústí nad Labem, Brno, Plzeň and other areas, in which measurements and coverage may take 24 or 25 months. In case of Prague it is 16 months which is also sufficient. But those two areas, in particular Jeseník and Zlín region are complicated mountainous areas with deep valleys. Measurement would take only for 6 or 7 months and it could have a negative impact on some 300000 inhabitants. It is simply a technical problem, nothing more.
Mirek Topolánek, Prime Minister of the Czech Republic: It is a technical problem with possible political impact in case of non-meeting the deadline.

Lidové noviny: May I respond to it? Where did you get the information from, From České radiokomunikace (Czech Radio Communication) or the Czech Telecommunication Office?
Martin Říman, Minister of Industry and Trade: This information we got based on the discussion with České Radiokomunikace, as well as in case of any other norm of a technical character. It is not anything exceptional, on the contrary - it is a rule and we would be rightfully reproached in case of different procedure. So, after the discussion with this authority which will be as the only one responsible for possible impact on inhabitants, we accepted requirements or objections in case of those two transmitters and based on technical specification we proposed postponement of the deadline by six months.
Petr Mašek, Agentura Mediafax: I would like to ask the Prime Minister about the standpoint of the government to the following laws; the first one concerns the Proposal of Deputies concerning the Lisbon Treaty, and the second one concerns the Senatorial Bill on Anti-Communist Revolt and Participants of the Resistance Movement against the Communism.
Mirek Topolánek, Prime Minister of the Czech Republic: Well, the first one was the proposal for referendum on the accession of the Czech Republic to the Lisbon Treaty. The stand of the government to this proposal, based on the proposal of the Legislative Council of the Government, was negative; it was not submitted together with the implementing statute because of several reasons. That is all I can say about it. As to the second law – the bill on the anti-communist participants and participants of the resistance movement - the stand was positive, but we have several reservation, or technical and legislative measures. The Minister of Justice Pospíšil and Cyril Svoboda will give reasons for this standpoint and they will want to cooperate with the Senate on specification of the clause which concerns rehabilitation and establishment of an administrative authority which would enable administrative judgements and review of decisions of the Totalitarian Regime Study Institute. We regard those two parts as very controversial; nevertheless, we approved this proposal.

Právo: Mr. Prime Minister, it seems that the Bill on Redress of Certain Property Injuries caused to Churches and religious Societies will not win necessary support in the coalition. The Minister of Finance Miroslav Kalousek indicated yesterday that it is necessary to start negotiations so that to avert failure. What do you think of it? Do you think that something like this will happen? Thank you.
Mirek Topolánek, Prime Minister of the Czech Republic: I would like to be informed as you are. There has not been indicated by anybody during those debated in group of deputies that there might be a problem in the first reading. A discussion is being held, and there is also certain genesis of the entire property here on ways of solution of this problem during the individual phases of our history after November 1979. There are also explained certain controversial passages of the proposed law. In this respect, I am of the opinion that this proposal deserves to be passed to the second reading, as there is number of passages there which deserves discussion, and I will give the floor to Václav Jehlička in a minute. We are concurrently solving four problems at a minimum, from which the problem concerning release of property for the state and municipalities is the least one. In this bill are not solved issues of lost means resulted from thefts. It means that only after thorough financial analysis of what had been stolen on the one hand and on the other hand what revenues of the state and municipalities will be reached resulted from using this property in the following 60 years thanks to the released property, only after that the financial analysis will be different from those which are published now. Perhaps Václav Jehlička wants to add something.
Václav Jehlička, Minister of Culture: I think that all of you have been given the basic facts concerning the bill. There are our arguments there, which we, together with the Prime Minister, regarded as necessary to mention. I would like to say that the bill is advantageous in particular for the state, regions, and municipalities. There will be certain problems as far as churches are concerned, because churches will have to become independent; they will not be supported by the state any longer and the state, in return to those 83 billion crowns which will be transferred in the following 60 years, will immediately obtain property which will be transferred to regions and municipalities; the state will have also a chance to privatize it. Thus, owners of the property will be able to get European subsidies, which has been impossible up to now. I would like to say that the result, I mean the bill which we will submit to the Chamber of Deputies tomorrow to the first reading, is a successful compromise, in particular because it is a compromise reached by 18 parties, 17 churches and the eighteenth party was the state. It was not only the Romany-Catholic Church but further 16 churches welcomed that bill.
Právo: I did not make it up, Mr. Prime Minister. I was talking to Vlastimil Tlustý yesterday and he flatly refuses to indebt our grandchildren; so, I used information which arose from your party. And how about establishing a commission which would negotiate with the opposition, if you want the bill to be passed?

Mirek Topolánek, Prime Minister of the Czech Republic: I do not want to patronize, but just for this reason committees in the Chamber of Deputies and in the Senate are established, so that the discussion could be held on the political level. I do not think that there is some other possibility given in our Constitution. Just because of this reason there is the system of three readings established, when motions to amend are brought up in the second reading and a bill is then approved in the third reading. I am of the opinion that this tool makes discussion possible on the respective problems. The entire problem of so called indebtedness is rather a post-Bolshevik syndrome, because the property was stolen and we will return only part of it. The rest of the property is assessed quite correctly and we will not return the property physically, but we will have to settle the problem through financial compensation. Also the variant of immediate financial settlement was considered. I would even say that in the context of some privatization projects it would be theoretically possible, but it would not be as good as you think. First, the reason is that the state would cease to meet the Maastricht criteria. Second, it would have to borrow the money and interests would be comparable with 50-year bonds, and besides, privatization sources could not be used in such a short time. So, this argumentation is rather false, as the state has not any free money available, which could be used. By the way, those arguments that it would be possible to pay it quickly are as expensive as that submitted variant. I am simply not willing to explain economists what the discount is and I am not willing to explain what the present and future value of money is. I am of the opinion that economists should know it.
Czech TV: I would like to ask the Prime Minister a question – the assessment of the European Commission was published today. On the one hand, it reduced the estimate of the growth of our economy to 4,7%, while the estimate of the Ministry of Finance is 4,9%. On the other hand, it praised stabilization measures of the government. May I ask you for a brief response? Will not you reassess your estimate?
Mirek Topolánek, Prime Minister of the Czech Republic: We will not reassess it, I am sure. If you compare estimates of some significant financial institutions, the central ban, the Ministry of Finance or the estimate of the European Commission, you can see that they always differ by some tenth of percent, sometime even by several percents. Therefore, this estimate of the EU, or rather the European Commission is close to the estimate of the Ministry of Finance and we are not forced to reassess it or to change anything. As to the praise of that stabilization programme, in this respect I value higher the assessment of the OECD, which is based on the best experiences of the 30 richest countries of the world, not only countries of the EU. Nowhere near all the countries of the EU have the same status and I think that the visit of the President of the OECD who stayed here last week is a clear signal and the assessment of the OECD is proof that we are going in the right direction. It is only the question of a political mandate whether we will be able to implement these measures fully or not. We regularly visit the European Union and all the colleagues of mine registered such an assessment. Therefore, it is not very surprising for us.
MF Dnes: I would like to ask a question concerning digitalization. What will happen if the TV companies do not agree with the transfer plan?
Martin Říman, Minister of Industry and Trade: I would not like to anticipate further progress. TV companies have now three months for studying the plan and they have time for its assessment. I think the proposal which was approved today is well balanced proposal and all parties should agree with it, in spite of the fact that it will be sometimes approved with grinding teeth. But I would not like to anticipate what will be after three months. Everything was proposed in such a way so that everybody could agree with it. Also what we were talking about a minute ago is one of counter-plans made for one of participants. But it does not mean that the digital broadcasting of the Czech TV will be delayed. The digital broadcasting for 85% of inhabitants will start its operation in the Czech Republic in June 2011 at the latest.
Jana Bartošová, Government spokesperson: Thank you, the last question, please.
Mirek Topolánek, Prime Minister of the Czech Republic: I think that these questions indicate that this matter is subjected to a great lobbing not only from the side of the great players but also journalists.
Jana Bartošová, Government spokesperson: If there is not any further question, thank you and good-bye.

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