Czech-Canada visa issue needs negotiations

July 6, 2009 at 2:41 PM

PRAGUE, Czech Republic, July 6 (UPI) -- Czech President Vaclav Klaus Monday said Canada and the Czech Republic should try to maintain bilateral travel rules without visas.

Addressing reporters in Prague, Klaus said he hopes negotiations on the visa issue will avert threats the two countries could introduce travel restrictions to stem the rising number of Czech asylum-seekers traveling to Canada, Prague Radio reported.

Klaus urged officials of the two countries to ease escalating tensions over the visa issue.

He condemned Czech reaction to rumors Canada plans to introduce visas for Czech travelers Tuesday. Klaus said it was premature to claim the Czech Republic would retaliate by suing Canada in a European court or introducing visas for Canadian diplomats, the report said.

In the first four months this year, about 1,100 Czech Gypsies applied for asylum in Canada, arguing members of the Romany minority often suffer discrimination and racial attacks in the Czech Republic.

Canada lifted visas for Czech visitors in October 2007.

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