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29. 3. 2008 10:56

Prime Minister Mirek Topolánek attended the ceremony marking the abolition of border control on flights within the Schengen area

On the Saturday of 29th March, Czech Prime Minister Mirek Topolánek attended a ceremony held on the occasion of abolition of border control on flights within the Schengen area, held at the Ruzyně Airport of Prague. The Czech Republic thus definitively joined the Schengen countries.

"Starting at midnight today, we will be able to pass freely not only through land border crossings, but also the checkpoints at the airports of 24 countries of the Schengen area, which our country has definitively joined. I am happy that it is the government which I head that could contribute to pulling down this barrier, not only for Czech citizens but also those of another eight new EU member countries. That we have stopped being second-rate citizens of Europe...,“ said the Prime Minister in his speech on the occasion of this historic event.

The recent abolition of the visa duty for Czech citizens travelling to Canada and the anticipated abolition of visas required for entry into the USA was described by the Prime Minister as evidence of the fact that the Czech Government seeks to implement one of the fundamental human freedoms – the freedom of movement. „I think that the next step to be taken is ensuring the free movement of labour and services. We are thus removing another road block on our way to a truly free Europe,“ the Prime Miister pointed out.

The fact that from the midnight of 29th March Czech citizens do not have to queue at the passport control counter for „Schengen non-members“ was appreciated by the Prime Minister as a great satisfaction for all Czechs. „We felt as if we belonged to a different Europe. We felt as European citizens of second category. From today’s midnight, we no longer feel so.“

The Czech Republic joined the countries of the Schengen area on 21st December, 2007. This historic event is the result of maximum efforts exerted by the experts and diplomats of Prime Miister Topolánek’s government, achieved despite the threat, faced by it at the start of its current term of office, that due to technical problems in introducing the new Schengen Information System (SIS II), the Czech Republic would not be able to join the Schengen group until 2010, or even worse, that its membership would have to be postponed indefinitely. From the very beginning of the process the government of Mirek Topolánek nevertheless insisted that the enlargement take place at the originally agreed date, namely the end of 2007. „For the first time since it joined the European Union, the Czech Republic managed to have its own serious theme included in the EU agenda, and by means of patient negotiation achieve a change in the Union’s attitude. This is a proof of its emancipation as EU member. And also a proof of the correctness of the policy of its new government, based on harmonization of its national interests with those of other EU members, in compliance with the fundamental values espoused by the European Union,“ commented the Prime Minister last year.

Press Department of the Czech Government Office

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