Press Conferences

6. 9. 2006 11:02

Press conference of the Prime Minister of the Czech Republic, Mirek Topolánek, held after the Government meeting of 6 September 2006

Radim Ochvat, secretary of the Prime Minister: Welcome to Strakov Academy after the Government meeting. I would like to welcome the Prime Minister, Mirek Topolánek, and the Minister for Transport, Aleš Řebíček. Prime Minister, the floor is yours.

Mirek Topolánek, Prime Minister of the Czech Republic: Thank you. I would like to welcome you to this press conference following the second – again very brief – Government meeting. The Government obviously does not yet have materials of a legislative nature to discuss. This will start next week when we discuss members’ bills from the Chamber of Deputies. We discussed eight items; of these, many were simpler items with no discussion. Two items on the agenda, however, merited discussion. They were a resolution on the Czech Republic’s status as a candidate to be the host country of the European office for the supervision of global navigation satellite systems (Galileo); this Government, like the last, is interested in seeing this European office established in the Czech Republic. In this respect, we discussed and approved this item and adopted the necessary resolutions as it is high time we sent our offer to the European Commission. The second item we discussed was rather more complicated and is connected with the situation and transport service in the Ústecko Region. At today’s Government meeting we annulled the resolution adopted by Jiří Paroubek’s Government; we consider this resolution to be unconstitutional and an unacceptable intervention in regional government, as well as an attempt to interfere in the independence of law enforcement agencies. On the other hand, we note that the root cause of the problem is the neglected legal environment, which has made such a dominant position possible on a market as relevant as the Ústecko Region, and the absence of a public transport act – which the previous government failed to prepare – which has led to the situation we are now witnessing in the Ústecko Region. Nevertheless, we immediately set up a working party comprising the Minister for Transport, the Minister for Regional Development, the Minister for Justice and the Minister for Finance, which was set the task of presenting a report on the situation and various solutions available, and of submitting a proposal of possible swift legislative action. Here I would like to say – beyond the scope of the Government resolution – that if the region and the regional governor consider the situation to be exceptional enough to seek Government assistance, we are willing to apply special means available to the Government and state, such as the use of military transport units, to prevent an extraordinary situation from arising – if the region so requests. Thank you, that is all from today’s Government meeting. Thank you.

Radim Ochvat, secretary of the Prime Minister: Thank you, Prime Minister, and now a few words from the Minister for Transport.

Aleš Řebíček, Minister for Transport: I think the Prime Minister has covered all there is to say. Thank you.

Remešová, ČTK: When is the working party expected to deliver any results?

Mirek Topolánek, Prime Minister of the Czech Republic: By next week – at the Government meeting scheduled for Wednesday 13 September.

Aleš Řebíček, Minister for Transport: I would like to add that the Minister for Regional Development and I are going to a meeting of the Ústecko Regional Assembly today as one of the items on the assembly’s agenda is a discussion of this extraordinary situation. By coincidence, we are also MPs for this region, so we are going there and of course we will address this problem.

Radim Ochvat, secretary of the Prime Minister: Last question, please, if there are any.

Radek Bartoníček, I would like to ask the Prime Minister, as regards the regulation issued by the former prime minister, if he could explain why it was unconstitutional, and if the annulment of this regulation will change the situation somehow.

Mirek Topolánek, Prime Minister of the Czech Republic: That resolution, I don’t have it here with me - you can find it in the government resolutions from a fortnight ago – was unconstitutional in several respects. Meddling – and I would say this has become an increasingly common phenomenon – in the autonomous decisions of regional or municipal assemblies became a widely-used tactic by the past government and the past administration. That is the main point. The second point – ordering the minister for justice to interfere somehow in criminal proceedings or investigations – really does seem like a throwback to the 1950s and another justice minister of that time. The whole problem has been created artificially, politicized, and I don’t think the government has the possibility, in any fundamental way, of intervening in this regional matter unless it reaches excessive proportions, unless it threatens – of course – citizens, children, pensioners, for example by not transporting them to hospital and the like. As I hinted when I started speaking, in this case the regional governor can ask the government to step in. In my personal opinion, the most tragic aspect of this affair is that the government did not tackle the situation; the last government nurtured this situation and is now exploiting it as a pre-election tactic and is taking hostage those children, pensions and citizens of the Ústecko Region, a region in which Jiří Paroubek ran as a parliamentary candidate.

Radim Ochvat: Ladies and gentlemen, thank you for your time. We look forward to seeing you again next time. Good-bye.

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