published: 13.03.2013, 14:14 | updated: 13.03.2013 14:16:17
Prague - Czech regional self-rule authorities operate better than the government and they are first of all more successful in drawing EU subsidies, new President Milos Zeman told the regional governors today.
He pointed out that the cabinet of Petr Necas (Civic Democrats, ODS) "called itself the government of budgetary responsibility is now returning tens and tens of billion crowns to Brussels due to mistakes of its ministers."
Necas did not comment on Zeman´s statements.
The returned money could have been used for useful projects in the Czech Republic, Zeman said.
He said the government returned about ten times more money than the regions to Brussels.
He nevertheless recalled that there were problems with drawing EU subsidies in regions, too.
The Czech police prosecute former officials in charge of regional operational programmes over suspected manipulating EU subsidies.
Zeman said the fact that he preferred meeting the governors of Czech regions to his first meeting with the cabinet shows that he considers the regional self-rule bodies highly important.
Zeman, who was inaugurated last Friday, said he would probably meet the coalition government next week.
Necas said in reaction he did not consider it crucial that Zeman preferred meeting the regional governors.
"The president may say whatever he wants," he said after a regular cabinet meeting today.
Zeman said he as president would visit Czech regions far more often than foreign countries.
Most regional governors represent the opposition Social Democratic Party (CSSD) whose leader Zeman was in the 1990s and early 2000s. Zeman left the CSSD in 2007 and he is now honorary chairman of the small Party of Citizens´ Rights (SPOZ). The SPOZ formed a coalition with the CSSD in two regions.
Michal Hasek (CSSD), head of the Association of Czech Regions, said he believes Zeman may play the role of a mediator between the regional representatives and the right-wing government.
Necas dismissed the governors´ complaints about bad communication between them and the government.
Hasek recalled today that the regional governors supported Zeman in the direct presidential election against his rival, Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg (TOP 09).
He said the governors were looking forward to Zeman´s trip to individual regions.
Prague Mayor Bohuslav Svoboda (ODS) who was invited to the meeting as well apologised for family reasons.
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