Czechs, Slovaks among states disappointed over US visa regime

History

The Czech Republic and Slovakia are among the six new EU countries that issued a joint statement on Thursday expressing disappointment over the new US law loosening the criteria for the inclusion into the visa waiver program, the AP news agency writes today.

The Implementing Recommendations of the 9/11 Commission Act of 2007 was signed by US President George W. Bush last week. The Czech Republic is the only country of the six - comprising also Latvia, Lithuania, Poland and Romania - likely to meet the new criteria for joining the program. Its signing of the statement „appears to be an act of solidarity,” according to AP.

„Some of America's closest allies will still be subject to artificial barriers that do not reflect their deep level of commitment and engagement in enhancing transatlantic and global security,” the statement, available also on the website of the Czech embassy in Washington, writes. The signatory countries of the statement declare they will continue to jointly seek the formation of a visa policy that recognized their „common security, economic, and foreign policy goals.” Hungary did not join the statement, sending a letter to the US representatives that calls the new law an encouraging step instead, AP agency writes.

„The new law retains the refusal rate criterion as a condition of inclusion into the visa waiver program, but the countries seeking the lifting of the visa duty cannot directly influence the number of rejected visa applications,” the Czech Foreign Ministry spokeswoman said last earlier. The law changes the highest acceptable rate of refused visa applications from the current 3% to 10%. (ceskenoviny.cz)

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