Press Conferences

21. 2. 2007 10:20

Press conference of the Prime Minister of the CR, Mirek Topolánek after the meeting of the government on Wednesday, 21st February 2007

Martin Schmarcz, head of the press unit of the Office of the Government: Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen, welcome the press conference after the meeting of the government. I welcome the Prime Minister Topolánek and the Minister of Interior Ivan Langer. As an introduction, the Prime Minister will summarize the agenda of the meeting of the government.

Mirek Topolánek, Prime Minister of the CR: Thank you. Good afternoon. I apologize for being late; the later we arrived the sooner we will leave as further meeting will follow. Therefore I will focus only on the issues of the meeting of the government. I apologize beforehand that I will not have enough time to answer other questions. Our agenda was really very extensive and therefore the meeting finished as late as now and we had to shift four points until next week. I think that the most interesting points will be presented by Ivan Langer. We approved, of course, number of interesting points, which concern for example the amendment of the Act on Foreign Exchange, but also the pension insurance. We approved solution of certain drawback of ours, which has been detected by the European Commission, and which concerns regulation of advertising. The decision on foundation of the University in Poděbrady has been postponed. There will be a concept discussion on this issue at the enlarged government's meeting at the Koloděje castle on 7th March in connection with the concept of tertiary education. We solved, of course, materials that were submitted by minister Stehlíková, which concern grants or subsidies from the state budget for activities of national minorities. We were solving problems connected with termination of activities of the company of Eastern Sugar and related decrease of national sugar quota and payment of the European Commission connected with this issue. We approved in fact the government order, which enable our farmers to use the aliquot amount they have right to. We dismissed number of deputy's proposals. One of them concerned a nation-wide referendum, it was repeated proposal and we have in our programme declaration different solution included. We do not see any reason for adoption of a constitutional act on nation-wide referendum, as we prefer rather special referenda based on special constitutional laws. We debated also school-leaving examinations ("A" levels) and we insist on our standpoint, which is now being debated on the Chamber of Deputies; therefore we did not agree with further proposal, which would in fact postpone school-leaving examinations regarding special subject by one year and would preserve school-leaving examinations in Czech language and a foreign language. That was a proposal of deputies Zelenková, Bohdalová, Mertynová and others. We have approved concept of integration of aliens in 2006, which was a material submitted by the Deputy Prime Minister Nečas. In connection with this, we also approved a material, which concerned transformation of social services and other materials. We have approved certain matters of technical character and, of course, all the points that were considered without debate, with the exception of several points that ministers asked to rank among points that are to be considered in the course of the debate. We will be debating them next week. That is all for the present.

Martin Schmarcz, head of the press unit of the Office of the Government: Now, the Minister of Interior Ivan Langer has the floor.

Ivan Langer, Minister of Interior and Informatics: Good afternoon. I apologize for my nasal voice; it is partly because I am rather touched and partly because I have brought a virosis from Poland; so excuse me for that handicap. I suppose you have been informed through the government declaration that the objective of the government is to simplify everyday life of Czech citizens to a maximum extent. And one of its great objectives is de-bureaucratization of the operation of the state, simplification of communication of citizens with the state at all institutions on the level of municipalities, regions and the state. In this respect, it is possible to consider two points that the government debated today as fulfilment of the government declaration in the sphere of de-bureaucratization of the state operation. The first one is very concrete; it concerns issue of children's passports. The second issue is a conceptual one and it is related to the implementation of e-Government and the policy of the government in the sphere of e-Government; it is called Czech Point. First, regarding children's passports - I suppose that either based on your own experience or sometime in the future you would find out what an absurd legislative measure the previous government had approved, when it imposed on parents, or on children through their parents, a duty to have every year new passports until fifth year of their age. It is absurd and nonsensical, it is a measure that complicates everyday life of parents with children and uselessly affects their family budgets. The government debated two variants of possible solution. The first variant was a fast variant, but it was a compromise one – to enable parents entering their children, up to five years of age, into their passports. This variant would be easy-to-implemented; it could be implemented within a shorter time. The second variant was a more conceptual variant – to enable parents entering their children into their passports up to ten years of age. The government decided to adopt this variant and thus parents will be able to enter their children in passports up to ten years of their age. As a result, certain technical problems will occur because of security reasons, nevertheless I suppose that this law will be approved in a foreseeable future and it will be enforced sometime in the second half of this year. It is significant simplification of the existing state, which bothers unnecessarily parents with children, anyway. The second point, the Bill amending the Act on Information Systems of Public Administration, relates to the Czech Point project. You know that the government of Mirek Topolánek set as one of the principal objectives in the sphere of public administration the development and support of e-government in the CR. Within this objective, it determined clear time and material framework and determined concrete steps that are to be taken in the course of implementation of this plan. The first step – single communication infrastructure of public administration – it is already implemented. The second step is to create so called Czech Point Network. Then, it will be adoption of the Act on Equalization of Written and Electronic Documents, and a crown of the entire project of e-government in the CR will be the Act on Registers. The government approved today the Czech Point project, which will significantly facilitate contacts of citizens with the state, as it will enable, at so called Birth, Deaths and Marriages Registries, there are about 1500 of them in the CR, to make copies of entries in the Land Register, in the Commercial Register, statements of criminal records and copies of entries in the Register of Trades. Thus, very dense network of so called Czech points will be established, through which it will be possible to get copies of entries in registers without necessity to contact number of authorities. This is the first stage, in which also the network of branches of the Česká pošta (Czech Post) will be involved, as we rely on them in the framework of e-Government development. Nevertheless this spine network will be developed in the future and some of ministers were already interested in providing further information and services at Czech Points. As I used to say in the past, Czech points are small steps for the Czech bureaucracy but a great step for citizens of the CR. I think it is true; I regard today's decision of the government as fundamental for further development of e-Government in the CR and for simplification of everyday life of all citizens in our country.

Martin Schmarcz, head of the press unit of the Office of the Government: Ladies and gentlemen, now there is time for two questions of yours, at a maximum. The Prime Minister has further meeting immediately after the press conference and questions, as it had already been said, are to concern the meeting of the government. The Česká televize and TV Prima raised their hands, I do not know in what order. But they will be those two questions, anyway. Please.

Helena Šulcová, TV Prima: I would like to ask the Prime Minister if there was a debate on the intention of Mrs. Stehlíková to arrange a public fund-raising campaign to help Romanies that were moved out of Vsetín. Was there a debate on this issue, would you prefer such an intention to the original one, which concerned contributions from the state budget?

Mirek Topolánek, Prime Minister of the CR: We did not debate it of course, because we debate only materials, which are submitted. And I am not interested in private initiatives of ministers, which have connection with their activities. That is my answer. We are not to debate it.

Ivan Langer, Minister of Interior and Informatics: If I may to add something, a spontaneous initiative of a man is perhaps natural; nevertheless, I do not think that it would be optimal to solve the problem through the state budget.

Martin Schmarcz, head of the press unit of the Office of the Government: Česká televize, please.

Jana Čermáková, ČT: Prime Minister, I would like to ask how the bill amending the act on transfers of farm lands to foreigners turned out. Minister Gandalovič proposed to suspend it. In case you approved it, why did not you try to meet his requirements? Do you have any idea what could be the result in the Chamber of Deputies? What was the result today?

Mirek Topolánek, Prime Minister of the CR: We approved the bill after a long debate, I would say. I think that also Petr Gandalovič admitted that it was nonsensical to insist on original wording, because at present there is illegal state in our country in this respect. Even nowadays, according to primary law, which is superior to our law, this state is nonsensical. It means that by adoption of this bill we wanted to establish that what citizens approved in the referendum and what the government should respect; or each political representation. And this is what we adopted in connection with the Accession Treaty, i.e. the validity of the EU primary law. It means that the discussion was on several aspects; first it was establishment of legal state. Even now our authorities would have to meet requirements of aliens regarding entries in the Land register. It means that the law, which deformed this state, somehow, is non lege artis, in fact. This is one reason. The second reason – we have number of tasks, fulfilment of which will follow immediately, for example termination of activities of Land Fund and number of issues. Therefore, we do not think that it would be a risk that right of Czech citizens´ would be restricted. Everybody knows that based on the existing state and relatively nonsensical activities of the Zeman´s government, when we exchanged seven-year moratorium on the sale of farmland to foreigners, which could not be realized, for free movement of workers. As early as then, we criticized this measure and it was shown quickly that this law can be circumvented by various ways, and by absolutely legal ones. Members of other states of the EU this measure circumvents absolutely legally. So, there is no risk regarding this and after a long debate we decided to adopt this bill.

Ivan Langer, Minister of Interior and Informatics: May I add something? To understand this issue well, whatever a Czech legal norm stipulates, the EU primary law is superior to it. And if the Act on Foreign Exchange restricted purchase of farmland somehow, the respective terms are stipulated in the primary law and it takes preference over our law. Now, we are solving de facto a problem, which has already been solved, whatever wording of our law is.

Mirek Topolánek, Prime Minister of the CR: I just add that we originally proposed to have the Bill amending the Act on Foreign Exchange approved in the Chamber of Deputies in shortened procedure in accordance with clause 90. Nevertheless, we are aware of controversial character of this bill in the Chamber of Deputies, but I point out again it is all the same whether the Chamber of Deputies approves it or not. I will vote for approval so as we would avoid legal disputes, which would burden the state budget. The EU primary law is unambiguously superior to our law. Therefore, I will get deputies to approve it. If they do not approve it, then it would be unambiguous indication of the fact that they are not interested in impacts on the state budget resulting from the legal disputes, which we would have to lose thanks to the EU primary law, which is valid.

Martin Schmarcz, head of the press unit of the Office of the Government: So, I will finish it and rather impolitely I draw the Prime Minister's attention to the fact that he has further meeting, immediately after the press conference. I apologize for this shortening.

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