Press Conferences

16. 6. 2008 12:25

Press Conference after the Meeting of the President of the French Republic Nikolas Sarkozy and the PM of the Czech Republic Mirek Topolánek

Press Conference after the Meeting of the President of the French Republic Nikolas Sarkozy and the Prime Minister of the Czech Republic Mirek Topolánek at Kramář Villa on 16th June 2008

Jana Bartošová, government spokesperson: Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen, welcome to press conference after talks of delegations of the President of the French Republic, Mr. Nicolas Sarkozy and the Prime Minister of the Czech Republic, Mr. Mirek Topolánek. I welcome the President of the French Republic in the Czech Republic and I also welcome the Prime Minister of the Czech Republic, Mr. Mirek Topolánek and I give him the floor.

Mirek Topolánek, Prime Minister of the Czech Republic: Thank you. Dear Mr. President, dear guests, we have held very intensive bilateral talks with the President and the future Chairman of the European Council, Mr. Nicolas Sarkozy in the framework of the Visegrad Group. I will concentrate myself on the bilateral talks because that is why I am here today. We signed three agreements today. All of them express great interest of France in this region and great interest of the Czech Republic in France as a partner. We signed an Agreement on Strategic Partnership and we considered it as very important in all the aspects and areas which were covered by the agreement, and we wanted to intensify our cooperation. We signed an agreement on cooperation of universities. We signed an agreement on cooperation in science and research. We would like to shift this issue from the government level to the standard cooperation, and the common Czech-French Year for Businessmen shows that it is possible and that we can find common ways, common solutions, not only in the framework of our bilateral relations but also in the framework of the European Union. I very appreciate steps which have been pushed through by Nicolas Sarkozy, for example abolition of the moratorium on free movements of workers, which was very courageous step from the French side. I appreciate his communication with the United States of America on removal of barriers; I appreciate the discussion on the return of France to the military structures of NATO, which makes discussion on the European security forces easier. I cannot avoid one topic, which was rather impressed upon this negotiations, I mean how to continue in the European Union after the Irish "NO", after the Irish referendum that was held last weekend. I fully respect the opinion of the French President who knows better than anybody else how that "NO", which he experienced after the referendum on the Constitutional Treaty, tastes. In this respect, we will go to the session of the EU Council prepared to search for any measure, including temporary measure, which would not cause a crisis of the European Union. I refuse to lighten the situation; the situation is very grave and the Lisbon Treaty will not come into force starting from 1st January 2009. I would like to express my persuasion that the Czech Republic will be able to continue in the French presidency to the EU Council and that we will be able to take the responsibility which will be placed on us during our presidency in the first half of 2009 just because the Lisbon Treaty will not be implemented. But we are also aware of the threat which can be brought about. I mean the impossibility to adopt Croatia without an amendment of the Nice Treaty. It will mean the European discussion which may surpass the existing European agenda which is aimed at concrete problems like oil prices, food prices, energy packet, migration and number of further problems that have been debated bilaterally. The third threat is that those who have a feeling today that there was enough discussion, could choose an autonomous way – it is a threat for democracy in Europe and for its further development. It means that we will go to the session of the EU Council prepared to discuss a solution, reaching of which is necessary after the Irish "NO". I respect that Irish "NO" as well as the French "NO". I think it is enough as an introduction and I give the floor to the French President Nicolas Sarkozy.

Nicolas Sarkozy, President of the French Republic: I would like to thank the Czech Prime Minister for excellent reception. You know well that the return to the Central Europe is a French priority, because Europe needs the Central Europe, its growth, its youth, its dynamics and its hope. Just because of this reason I made from the return of France to the Central Europe a priority of French European diplomacy. We held intense discussion with the Visegrad Group both in the morning and during the lunchtime. During the French presidency, we will have to face consequences of the Irish "NO"; it is not an easy situation and that is why we must solve the Irish "NO" calmly and coolly. We must not dramatize it, but we must not minimize it either. What does "not to dramatize it" means? It means to realize that 18 countries have already ratified it and one country refused it. I was talking to Gordon Brown in Paris and he intended to continue in the ratification. We must also take into consideration what our citizens say. The Irish decision is a political fact. I negotiated with the Irish Prime Minister and I would like to go to Ireland to discuss under what conditions it would be possible to overcome that trouble. It is important not to worsen consequences of the Irish decision, so that European crisis would not occur. We must avoid it, as it would prevent Croatia from accession to the European Union. We must not condemn Europe to immobility; nobody would understand it. Europe has ten-year-long delay as far as institutional reform is concerned and we must not allow it any longer. Therefore, we must do our best, because prices of raw materials, not only oil prices have grown, and we must take certain measures in the sphere of migration and other spheres. We will negotiate it on Thursday and Friday. I said to the Czech Prime Minister who will preside to the EU Council after the French presidency that we would have to resume common responsibility of this presidency, and to reach a common decision. All of us need the integrated Europe, not divided and immovable Europe. I am going to say this at the session of the EU Council. Now, I should finish my speech as it is going to rain any minute. And I may not answer your questions because of the rain. You need not take unavailing photographs, which are constantly taken by anyone.

Jana Bartošová, government spokesperson: I thank the President of the French Republic and now there is time for your questions. I ask for one question from the French side and one question from the Czech side.

French journalist, ADP: Good afternoon. I would like to ask you Mr. President whether you persuaded your Czech colleagues.

Nicolas Sarkozy, President of the French Republic: Are you still talking about an incident or do you have a feeling that the process reached a deadlock? If there is a country here which might understand the Czech Republic, then it is France, because France said "NO" in 2007 and I understood that our Czech friends need some time to act in majority, perhaps in opposition or coalition; we must give them time. Nobody should be pressed to anything, so that the standpoint would not be so uncompromising. We agreed with the Prime Minister that nothing had should be done with too much hasten. We must not dramatize anything and we will find the best way how to reach to the unity in our European family on Thursday or Friday. I think that all of us are of the same opinion.

Mirek Topolánek, Prime Minister of the Czech Republic: May I add something? I apologize for the rain; it must be weeping because of the yesterday's football match. I think that the football match adumbrated this day. I would like to say that in our case the question is not whether we will say "yes" or "no". We are holding a discussion whether after that Irish "NO" it is possible to and legitimate to continue in the ratification process. Fortunately, we need not to solve this problem because the process is suspended because of proceedings of the Constitutional Court, as well as in case of Germany. Number of countries has not signed it, for example it is not signed in Poland by the President. I do not think it is necessary to make a problem of it and to talk about a crisis, but I agree with Nicolas Sarkozy that we cannot minimize or simplify the situation which occurred. We will be finding a common solution. Now, give European politicians time so that they could find it.

Jana Bartošová, government spokesperson: Thank you. Now one question from the Czech side. The Czech TV.

Petr Zavadil, Czech TV: Good afternoon. I have a question to the President of the French Republic. Are not you afraid of further "NO" to the Lisbon Treaty during the French presidency? What would it mean for the Lisbon Treaty?

Nicolas Sarkozy, President of the French Republic: The important think is not to be afraid of anything. The question is why Europeans regard the EU as a threat, because the EU is here to protect them. The best way is to avoid a crisis. We have a different problem, with a different country and we will not make a political chasm between those countries which have already ratified the Treaty and those which are going to ratify it and that country which refused it. I think we should take some concrete measures to make everyday life of EU citizens easier. For example prices of oil and food – all of us should gather and to walk along the common path. We must talk about it and to understand problems of our Czech friends, for example, and to bring them to our common path. Look back at the history. The Czech Republic, more than anybody else, supports the enlargement of the EU and the accession of Croatia. It is a fact and for opening the EU to the Balkan and especially Croatia, we need the Lisbon Treaty. If it is not the Lisbon Treaty, it will not be an accession. But I know well that there is certain euroscepticism in the Czech Republic, which we registered in France. That is why I want to negotiate with the Czech Prime Minister, the Irish Prime Minister to find out under what conditions it will be possible to achieve ratification. You do not mean that we will let Europe to argue on the institutional reform. That is what we are trying to avert. It will not be easy but it is the only one reliable way. And I add – after the French presidency there will be the Czech one. On the one hand, it is important for the Czech representatives to take the opinion of the public into consideration, but on the other hand they must be prepared for the presidency to the EU Council in compliance with the French presidency after six months. They will be facing the same problem, as well. So, give us some time; but we must not waste time. It will be the strategy of the French presidency.

Mirek Topolánek, Prime Minister of the Czech Republic: From the point of view of lawfulness of the Treaty, it is quite irrelevant whether the Treaty will not be ratified by the only one country or two or more countries. There is a different question here – whether we will find a solution in the framework of which all the states would ratify the Treaty, or whether we will find quite a different solution. So, I did not quite understand that question.

Jana Bartošová, government spokesperson: I thank the President of the French Republic and the Prime Minister of the Czech Republic. I thank you, ladies and gentlemen for your attention; have a nice day. Good-bye.

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