Prague - Canada is not planning to resume visas for Czechs, Foreign Minister John Baird told CTK after his meeting with his Czech counterpart Lubomir Zaoralek (Social Democrats, CSSD) today.
Ministr zahraničních věcí Lubomír Zaorálek (vpravo) a jeho kanadský protějšek John Baird vystoupili 22. dubna v Praze na tiskové konferenci. ČTK Šulová Kateřina
Canada reimposed the visa requirements on Czechs over a big rise in the number of Czech asylum applicants in 2009. It abolished them after Prague´s repeated protests last November.
Zaoralek said the visas prevented broader cooperation between the two countries.
He said he is glad that a solution has been found that changes the situation.
Baird said Canada has signed a trade treaty with the European Union that allows a more intensive trade exchange with the Czech Republic as well.
That is why Canada is planning no future changes in the visa field, he said.
The Canadian press in the past wrote that Canada had lifted the visa duty in reaction to Prague´s threat that it need not ratify the Canada-EU trade pact over the persisting visas.
Baird today pointed out that the visa question was not a Canadian-Czech problem but an exclusive problem of Canada and its asylum system, which Ottawa profoundly changed in recent years.
Ottawa reintroduced visas in July 2009 after over 2800 Czech citizens applied for Canadian asylum in two years. They were mainly Romanies who complained of persecution and racism at home.
After the visas were introduced, the number of Czech asylum seekers dropped by 99 percent and their success rate increased significantly.
Canada also listed the Czech Republic among the 37 states that respect human rights, which, too, contributed to Ottawa´s decision to lift the visa duty for Czechs.
Baird and Zaoralek also discussed the situation in Ukraine today.
Baird voiced concern about what he called Russia´s illegal intervention in Crimea, a part of Ukraine, which has seriously threatened peace and security in Europe.
He said Canada wants peace, prosperity, security and freedom for the people of Ukraine.