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Prague asks EU to activate procedure aimed at imposing visa requirement on Canadians for all EU states
15-07-2009  Ian Willoughby

Photo: ČTK The Czech Republic has officially asked the European Union to activate a procedure which could in theory lead to the whole of the EU imposing a visa requirement on Canadians. The move came in response to Ottawa’s decision to introduce a visa requirement for Czechs, following a rise in the number of Czech Romanies applying for asylum in Canada. On Tuesday the European Commission said it would not automatically impose a visa restriction on Canadians in solidarity with the Czech Republic. A spokesperson said the Commission regretted Canada’s decision and hoped it would be a temporary measure.

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.

Canada’s ambassador to Prague, Michael Calcott (Photo: ČTK) Meanwhile, Canada’s ambassador to Prague, Michael Calcott, said the Czech side had been informed of Ottawa’s decision on June 29, when the Canadian immigration minister, Jason Kenney, was in the Czech capital. Mr Calcott said he did not understand why the Czechs thought they had a chance of changing that decision.

In the first half of this year Czech Romanies filed 1,720 asylum applications in Canada, twice as many as for the whole of 2008. They say they suffer discrimination in their home country, a claim backed by human rights groups.

Canada introduced a visa requirement for Czechs in 1997 following an influx of asylum seekers, before dropping the measure a decade later.

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