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Czech official: visas for Czechs to Canada could be lifted in several monthsJan Velinger

The Czech deputy interior minister, Lenka Ptáčková Melicharová, has said that Canadian visas for Czech nationals could be lifted in several months. She made the comment on Friday after a meeting between EU interior ministers in Brussels, saying that if Canada did not resolve the visa issue - which has been heavily criticised by Prague - the Czech Republic could block the ratification of a trade agreement being negotiated between Canada and the European Union.

Ms Ptáčková Melicharová stressed, however, that her comments were her personal opinion. Ottawa unilaterally reintroduced visas for Czechs last July, after almost two years of visa-free relations, opting for the move after receiving a disproportionately high number of applications from Czech asylum seekers – many from within the Roma community. Canada also took similar steps back in 1997. Under pressure from Prague and Brussels, Canada has reportedly begun implementing changes to its asylum system, but the process could reportedly take several years to complete.

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