The White Paper on Defense is high on the agenda for this Wednesday’s Cabinet meeting. The impetus to draft the key document, upon which Defense Minister Alexandr Vondra (Civic Democrats, ODS) will base his reform efforts, is to map out plans to increase efficiency, reduce spending and overhaul the scandal-ridden tender process — all on a far more meager budget.
Marek Dalík, a close friend and advisor to former prime minister Mirek Topolánek, allegedly asked for a payment of €18 million (about Kč 460 million) to ensure the continuation of the Czech Defense Ministry’s order for Pandur 107 armored personnel carriers (APCs) from the company Austrian arms producer Steyr Mannlicher, the dailies Mladá fronta dnes and Právo reported Wednesday.
Following years of debate over what form state support for exports should take, the Ministry of Industry and Trade has a concept based on a model proven in Scandinavia. Instead of presenting goods at international trade fairs, Czech export promotion will concentrate on finding opportunities in global trends and problems and encourage Czech manufacturers and producers to develop appropriate solutions.
CzechInvest head and ODS politician Miroslav Křížek, the founder of leading language school JIPKA, had promised to set aside his entrepreneurial activities upon entering public service. But JIPKA Praha 13, a language school run by his wife, won a tender to provide English lessons in Prague 13 schools — the district he represents. A failed bidder alleges the terms of the tender may not have been standard.
People have become too complacent about corruption, Senator Jan Horník said in an interview for Czech Position. He was one of the few people to address the issue at meeting of the committee that oversees the distribution of EU funds. According to him, tender winners are decided in advance and pay kickbacks to political parties.
Ex-PM Mirek Topolánek heads to Iraq in May to try to drum up deals for VAE Controls, the energy and water management firm he founded before entering high office. Post-Hussein Iraq sorely needs services such as VAE Controls offers — but in Baghdad, it’s not what you know but whom you know that counts: Key for Topolánek is to be seen with his political successor, Petr Nečas, who’s leading the business delegation.
The Interior Ministry is the key coordinator in moves to introduce fast and efficient state administration in the Czech Republic fueled by EU funds. But management of the projects delivering that reform have come in for harsh criticism. A report to the government last week warned that money earmarked for the Czech Republic could be withdrawn due to delays in implementing some projects.
Security agency Sub S.A., which was co-owned by Interior Minister Jan Kubice and former Detective Hynek Vlas, won a government tender for consultation during the relocation of part of the Galileo navigational satellite system to Prague. A source told Czech Position that the Sub S.A. won the tender because Kubice and Vlas are past masters at communicating with the state security apparatus.
Proposals from the Ministry for Regional Development (MMR) to cut the number of operational programs delivering EU funds, including those operated by regions, have stirred up a wave of opposition in the provinces — which see the move as an assault on their prestige and power. The MMR wants the cuts to take effect for the EU’s next budgetary period (2014–2020).
The Czech Republic appears keen to spend billions on new combat and armored personnel vehicles — far more than comparable countries do — although the army already has at its disposal Pandur, Dinga, and Iveco models. The move stems from the Defense Ministry strategic document known as the White Paper (BKO), a draft of which Czech Position has obtained.
Reporter for ČESKÁ POZICE. He specializes in diplomacy, security policy, European integrations and politics in the Czech Republic. He studied at the Philosophical Faculty and the Faculty of Social Sciences at Charles University, later working in the European Commission for the foundation Ano pro Evropu (Yes for Europe) and as a reporter for the weekly Euro.