Canada to lift visa requirements for Czechs

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Associated Press

Posted on October 17, 2013 at 7:04 AM

Updated Thursday, Oct 17 at 7:04 AM

PRAGUE (AP) — Canada's ambassador to Prague says his country is planning to lift visa requirements for Czech nationals, a thorny issue that threatened a new free trade agreement between the European Union and Canada.

Ambassador Otto Jelinek says his government wants to re-establish visa-free status "in the earliest possible term."

Thursday's announcement came as Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper was expected in Brussels to conclude the deal with EU that the Czechs had threatened to block.

Canada abolished visas for Czech citizens in 2007 but re-imposed them two years later because of concerns over an excessive number of asylum-seekers, most of them from the country's Roma, or Gypsies, claiming discrimination at home.

Jelinek said Canada's move came after it adopted successful changes in its asylum system.

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