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October 20th, 1998
The Czech Republic on Tuesday urged Britain not to impose visas on its citizens to counter large numbers of romanies claiming asylum, and said Prague had concrete plans to solve the problem.

Foreign Minister Jan Kavan and Human rights Commissioner Petr Uhl, speaking in London after talks with Prime Minister Tony Blair and other ministers said they had been assured that Britain had no immediate plans to require Czech visitors to obtain visas.

Earlier this month, Britain imposed visa restrictions on Slovaks after a huge increase in the number of asylum applications from Slovak romanies who say they are discriminated against at home.

Petr Uhl said the government planned to improve education, employment and living conditions for Czech Romanies. He also said that there were plans to boost protection against racist attacks and to add an anti-discrimination clause to the employment law. Uhl commented that Prague wanted to benefit from the experience of large councils in Britain which had successfully integrated large ethnic communities.

Jan Kavan said the Czech Republic's chances of joining the European Union could well be hit if its citizens were required to obtain visas before entering Britain.

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