Press Advisories

17. 7. 2009 14:25

On the renewal of visas to Canada

Statement on the information currently available in Czech newspapers.

There is contradictory information in the most recent editions of some Czech newspapers about when and what the Czech government knew about Canada's intention to renew visas for Czech citizens and what it did and did not say to the public about this.

The world of international relations and diplomacy has its own rules; countries which strive to maintain high-quality and friendly contacts try to keep to these for a number of good reasons. This is what happened, at least on the Czech side, in a case as sensitive as the renewal of visas for Czech citizens travelling to Canada. Unfortunately the Czech government was the one which was at a disadvantage in this situation. But this in no way changes the fact that it behaved in a correct manner towards its partner and ally, as well as towards it own citizens.

At a working session on 29th June this year, Prime Minister Jan Fischer took note of information from Jason Kenney, Canadian Minister for Immigration, on the intention to introduce visas for Czech citizens. He also confirmed this the following day on the Czech Television programme Události, komentáře.

In conjunction with Czech diplomats, the Prime Minister personally went to great lengths, by telephone calls to his Canadian counterpart and the head of the European Commission, to have Canada change its decision or at least defer it. Statements from Canada on this issue were not however entirely consistent. On the one hand statements appeared on the possible introduction of visas on 7th July (with an announcement date of 6th July), on the other there were also confirmations that the arguments from the Czech side had merit for Canada and that it would consider its intended step once more.

On Monday 6th July Prime Minister Fischer spoke in front of the media about the possible introduction of visas and pointed out that he considered it very likely (see again Czech Television's Události programme of that date). On the possible date of 7th July, however, no change occurred in the existing non-visa arrangements. The behaviour of Ottawa had become unpredictable. The introduction of visas as of 14th July was therefore a surprise, which was not confirmed in advance to the Czech government by the official and standard route.

Roman Prorok, Czech Government Spokesman

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