Former Czech Interior Ministers debate neo-Nazi activity
Former Czech Interior Minister Martin Pecina, now a candidate for interior minister in the caretaker government of incoming Prime Minister Jiří Rusnok, wants to increase the number of police officers in the country and their salaries. He would like to augment police forces particularly in areas of the country experiencing security troubles.
Pecina also wants to significantly step up the fight against extremism and revive a project to hire crime prevention assistants from the Romani community to aid police. Speaking on Sunday, 7 July on the Czech Television program "Questions with Václav Moravec" (Otázky Václava Moravce), Pecina made those suggestions during a discussion with former Czech Interior Ministers Radek John and František Bublan. Outgoing Czech Interior Minister Jan Kubice refused an invitation to participate.
Pecina criticized the current state of affairs, saying the country has too few police officers. In his view the current number of around 38 500 is "a total catastrophe".
The incoming Interior Minister said he could imagine an increase of roughly 2 500 more officers. "I will definitely do my best to increase the number of police officers and to lift the cap on their wages, because the decline that has occurred not only in the police but among firefighters and other public service officials is unheard-of," he said.
Pecina served as Interior Minister during the caretaker government of former Prime Minister Jan Fischer. He said it would not be possible to increase the police budget until next year.
The incoming minister said he would like to increase the numbers of men and women serving on police forces particularly in areas where the police have long recorded problems. "I will certainly do all I can to increase deployments in the troubled areas in particular - North Bohemia, North Moravia, and possibly South Bohemia," he emphasized.
Pecina, who once headed the country's anti-monopoly office, would like to focus on the fight against extremism, which will be given a lot of space in the program declaration of the Rusnok government. "After we succeeded in dissolving the Workers' Party, after we succeeded in breaking up the most aggressive neo-Nazi cells, it can be seen that the neo-Nazis are raising their heads once again and we're back to zero," he said.
The incoming minister also reminded viewers of the "Dawn" (Úsvit) project. "It is much more efficient to pay Romani people a minimal salary than to disburse what is essentially the same amount of money to them in welfare. What has happened here is that people are not being given money for their housing, so they are moving into residential hotels, and that costs the state even more because someone is making an inordinate amount of money on those arrangements, and that's bad, of course. We should probably review what has happened in the past in order to figure out why this horrible system was ever introduced, and it should abolished," he said.
Pecina went on to say that unlike the government of outgoing Prime Minister Petr Nečas, the new government will really implement its program declarations in practice so that they do not remain just words in paper. "We will really take action the way I did four years ago," he said.
The incoming minister believes the primary point is to do something with the Czech economy, which is in decline for a sixth straight quarter. He believes work must be found first for "normal" citizens and then officials should consider how to employ socially excluded citizens.
Former Interior Minister Radek John said he believes the collapse of the Nečas government began with the Šluknov scandal of 2011. In his view, that cabinet never resolved many essential matters.
"This is mainly a matter for the executive branch. There was a need to adopt a law on garbage, and when the legislators passed resolutions stating that people's roofs and sewer pipes could not be resold to scrap dealers, the Environmental Ministry and the Ministry of Industry were unable to agree on the wording of the implementing decree. Even though a law has been adopted, copper gutters and roofs continue to be stolen and buildings are being torn apart, all because the executive branch has failed," John said.
Former Interior Minister František Bublan reminded viewers that blanket reductions were recently made to the country's welfare system, stating that in his view Romani people are better able to take advantage of the welfare system. "When welfare was reduced, the practice for the most part was that it was reduced across the board, and that affected those who have been dishonest as well. It is known that the Romani sector of our population is a bit more aggressive, is better able to take advantage of the social system than the rest of the population. That is what prompts the hatred we saw now in České Budějovice," he said.
All three expressed appreciation for the intervention by police officers yesterday in České Budějovice. "Those interventions were excellently handled, the boys have really got it down. I want to stand up for them," Pecina said.
The incoming minister also said drawing money from EU funds will be another priority. "I believe it will be one of the biggest tasks of this government to get us out of the mess that is coming down on us from Brussels," he declared.
Pecina was referring to recent criticism by the European Commission that the Czech Republic still does not have a valid law on public officials in place. The Czech Republic risks being unable to draw on EU subsidies worth roughly CZK 500 billion in future if it does not adopt correct legislation. Pecina said he does not want to change a bill on this issue now being debated in the Czech Senate.
The incoming minister also said he had reached out to the head of the Czech "secret service" protecting government officials, Jiří Komorous, to become his deputy minister, but that Komorous had rejected the offer. Pecina said he has another name for his deputy, but because he has not yet been appointed minister he will not publicize it.
The caretaker government should be appointed by Czech President Miloš Zeman this coming Wednesday. Rusnok's cabinet will then have to request the Czech Parliament to take a vote of confidence in it within 30 days.
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