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interview in two large companies and I even have a highschool and university degree of an agricultural type. So I think those arguments weren’t valid. How detailed was your overview of ministry problems prior to coming into the office? What surprised you most from this perspective in your first days? I have experience as a farmer and a former advisor to the Minister of Local Development, as well as a Representative of the Olomouc region from the state administration. As a politically-oriented person, I naturally followed everything regarding the ministry. Then, when I came to the ministry, it surprised me, for example that there were tenders being announced for things that I didn’t think were necessary, and that was not only in terms of millions, but sometimes tens of millions of CZK. These were mostly tenders in the area of IT, marketing or legal services. On the other hand, I was very pleased and perhaps even surprised when I walked through the premises, office by office, to meet the Ministry employees, about how positive an approach to their work they had. It was clear that they do their work with their hearts in it. If you were to select three problems that you would like to solve in the shortest possible time and three about which you know that they can’t be solved within a single election period, what would they be? As a summary, I would say that I would like all the measures we introduce to lead toward the development of agriculture and food production in the Czech Republic. Therefore, we will further support animal and plant production, care more about the support of young farmers and protection of agricultural soil erosion, including solving problems with the consequences of natural disasters. For this reason, my ambition will to sustain investments into anti-flood measures, also possibly increasing them in a reasonable scale. We have also allowed the areas of fruit production, vegetable production and gardening get to a catastrophic state. These were professions that had a very high level of quality prior to 1990 and then we allowed them to fall. A key element, but often overlooked, is how we will learn water management. I know I listed more problems than you wanted, but that’s simply what it is. I can’t just select three. I also know that we can’t solve everything within one election period, but we will try to at least begin the resolution of further problems. What do you consider to be your success as the head of the ministry? I would like Czech agriculture to move toward self-reliance, particularly in commodities where we were traditional producers. This means we should not only produce quality foods, but also create new jobs. As a private farmer, you surely have your own opinion on agricultural policy. To what degree do your opinions differ from the central level? I’m a farmer as well as a minister. With a certain exaggeration I say that both agree that


The Minister of Agriculture Marian Jurečka at the fair Salima

Czech agriculture lacks a concept. For example, our own food safety is not among our national interests, so it’s about time to clearly define what it is we actually want and start acting upon it. We already discussed the problems I’d like to solve, but I’ll add the support of investments into new technologies, which also has to be longterm and may not be affected by the change of a Minister from Prague. And of course, support for producers, both farmers and food producers, so that they can market their product, I hope directly to the consumer. Discrepancies in tenders, tender proceedings, resignation of employees… it seems you didn’t have an exactly easy entry into office. I don’t think I’m any different from other colleagues in the government. But it’s a good thing you mentioned it, because at least I can explain why I made some personnel changes when I came to the ministry, although I thought about it for a long time because I’m not a fan of personnel revolutions. Upon entering leadership position, one wants to be surrounded by a team of people he can trust and who will be sufficiently hard-working and capable. I came across some problems, so I needed people who are hundredpercent reliable and their work ethic will be from dawn till dusk. You haven’t spent much time in top politics. Still, has it changed you by now somehow? I don’t think top politics will change me, but I’m not the one to judge it, you’d have to ask others. What it definitely changed is my life and family rhythm. Since the early elections into the Chamber of Deputies, you are under careful watch of the media. How did you deal with their presence and have you had to change your approach to them? Anyone entering politics must be ready to be watched by the media. I already had some experi-

ence with them as the Vice-Chairman of KDU-ČSL and now it’s, of course, manifold more. I try to be approachable to anyone. One of the examples is that, after taking the office, I made my cell-phone number publically accessible. Of course when I’m at work, I can’t respond immediately, but I think the journalists understand that. Did you notice the question the media keeps repeating since you came to office, ‘where do you buy food’? Yes, that is a question journalist like to ask me. And I tell them that I most often go shopping in three shops. One little shop is in our village and run by our good friends. I also buy quality meat products from a local agricultural co-op shop and milk products from a friend who has a dairy farm. What makes you, as a minister, currently happiest and what consumes most of your energy? I’m happiest in time spent with my wife and children and recently these have indeed been precious moments. What consumes my energy? Often, the pointless and lengthy debates in the Chamber of Deputies. They take up time that could be used much more meaningfully. And finally – comprises a true leader in your view? For me, a leader is a person, or more specifically a personality, who has natural authority and a respect for others. But when you said ‘leader’ as someone from agriculture, I also thought about the European LEADER subsidy program. That almost seems as a profession-induced distortion, doesn’t it? Rather than a solid set of measures, that program is a method of mobilization and implementation of development of the countryside in local communities. Simply a leader. Jaroslav Kramer ■ český překlad naleznete v elektronické verzi magazínu na

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