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Swedish EU presidency backs Czechs in visa row with Canada
15-07-2009 - Daniela Lazarova

Photo: European Commission The Swedish EU presidency said on Wednesday it was in favour of visa requirements for Canadians travelling to EU member states after Canada imposed visa requirements on Czech nationals. Swedish Migration and Asylum Policy Minister Tobias Billstroem told the AFP news agency his country was in favour of respecting the EU solidarity principle but said it was up to the European Commission to handle the proposal, since the commission was responsible for the reciprocity mechanism.

Canada imposed visas on Czech nationals on Tuesday citing the need to stave off what it said was a steady influx of Roma asylum applicants from the Czech Republic. Czech officials reacted to the news with anger, calling the move “unfriendly and unaccommodating”. The Czech government has urged the EU to take joint steps against Canada within the solidarity principle, but the EU on Tuesday ruled out immediate action. Acting within its rights, the Czech government has recalled the country’s ambassador to Canada for consultations and announced plans to impose visa requirements on Canadian diplomats and civil servants.

President Klaus says Czechs not free to make a decision on visas

Czech President Václav Klaus on Wednesday criticized the EU for curbing the Czech Republic’s option of retaliation after Canada imposed visas on Czech nationals. He said the difference between the Czech Republic and Canada in this dispute was that Ottawa was free to make its own decisions while Prague’s hands were tied. It is Brussels that will decide for us, the president said. Mr. Klaus is a fierce opponent of the Lisbon treaty which he has so far refused to sign, saying it threatens Czech sovereignty.

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