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Airlines start vetting Czechs at Prague airport
17-07-2009  Chris Johnstone

Photo: ČTK Airlines at Prague airport started checking Canada-bound Czech passengers on Thursday to make sure that they have the required visas for entry into the country. Canada announced the re-imposition of visas for Czechs on Tuesday but allowed visa demands at its frontiers for the first 48 hours. Some of the Czechs flying out on Thursday complained about the last minute stress they had been exposed to. Many have been forced to seek visas at the Canadian embassy in Vienna. Around 300 visa applications were made by Friday with Canadian officials saying they refused around 1.0 percent of them. The Canadian move has been sparked by the surge of Czech asylum applications, mostly from the Roma community.

EU Commissioner says Canadian asylum claims must be examined

EU Commissioner Jacques Barrot has said that the Commission wants to understand why asylum demands are being lodged by EU citizens in Canada before it reacts to Prague’s demands that visas be slapped on Canadians visiting Europe. He said it was paradoxical that EU citizens were applying for asylum in third countries. The Commissioner for justice, freedom and security said Canada’s complaints about the surge in Czech asylum applicants seeking to profit from its generous system needed to be probed. On the basis of resulting findings, the Commission could make a recommendation about whether to comply with the Czech demand for EU solidarity against Canada, Barrot said. The Commission recommendation – promised by September - must then be supported by member states for any across the board EU action to be taken.

Czech minister says message over postponed visas did not get through

Czech minister for human rights and minorities, Michael Kocáb, has cleared up some of the apparent surprise and confusion in Prague over the Canadian move. Mr Kocáb said that Ottawa notified at the end of June that visas would be introduced on July 7. However, when the move was postponed for a week this was taken as a victory for Czech and EU diplomacy. The explanation that this was only a temporary postponement somehow did not get through.

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