Press Advisories

14. 7. 2009 14:59

The Czech Government is introducing visas for Canadian diplomats

Předseda vlády Jan Fischer a ministr zahraničí Jan Kohout na tiskové konferenci / PM Jan Fischer and Jan Kohout, Minister of foreign affairs
Předseda vlády Jan Fischer a ministr zahraničí Jan Kohout na tiskové konferenci / PM Jan Fischer and Jan Kohout, Minister of foreign affairs
At its extraordinary session the Czech Government has agreed upon its response to the introduction of visas for Czech citizens travelling to Canada.

“The Government of the Czech Republic perceives the introduction of visa duty for Czech citizens as a one-sided and unfriendly act on the part of Canada,” commented Prime Minister Jan Fischer.

The Czech Government will therefore ask the member states of the European Union to react. The European Commission should issue a recommendation for its members within three months.

“We tried to dissuade Canada from taking this step through intensive negotiations at both expert and political levels. The Czech Republic regards this step as wrong,” he added. At the same time, Czech Foreign Minister Jan Kohout will immediately ask the Czech Ambassador to Canada to return to Prague.

According to the Minister, the introduction of the visa duty is not a short-term measure and but may stay in force for several years. Minister Kohout sees it as part of the Canadian pre-election campaign, and Canada’s attempt to solve its own problems to the detriment of the Czech Republic.

History of the visa introduction

As a result of increased immigration of Czech citizens, members of the Romany community, Canada for the first time re-introduced visa duty for Czechs in October 1997. In 1996-1997, approximately 1 500 Czech Romanies applied for asylum in Canada. The Czech side did not reciprocate until April 2001, and from then till the Czech Republic’s entry in the European Union Canadian citizens needed visas when travelling to the Czech Republic. Following protracted and demanding negotiations, Canada cancelled the visa duty for Czech citizens as of 1st November, 2007. From that date till the end of March 2009, a total of 1 565 Czech citizens sought asylum in Canada. In January 2009, Czechs represented 4.33 % and in February 5.77 % of the total number of people seeking asylum in Canada.

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