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Czech-Canadian battle over visas

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Canada warned that it is mulling the re-introduction of visas for the Czech citizens due to an excessive influx of Czech Roma applying for refugee status based on discrimination and neo-Nazi attacks. The information sparked reaction on the Czech side, suggesting they might introduce diplomatic visas in retaliation, while Interior Minister Martin Pecina offered to intervene to cancel Prague-Toronto flights.

A shower of critical comments from across the Czech political spectrum, unusually unanimous on the matter, ensued. A report by the Canadian Immigration and Refugee Board (IRB) concluded the Czech state does not discriminate against Roma. A number of human rights activists objected, however, claiming some discrimination on the part of the state definitely exists.

The Czech Republic ranks second among asylum seekers to Canada after Mexico. Some 5,500 applicants from Mexico filed for asylum in the first six months of the year followed by 1,720 Czechs. Some voices are calling on Canada to review its asylum policies since they are too generous, pointing at Great Britain as an example. Great Britain amended its asylum policy at the beginning of the millennium and the number of asylum seekers dropped.

Canada and the Czech Republic should have had until the end of last week to reach a conclusion.

• Is the introduction of visas an appropriate solution?
• What should the Czech Republic do to improve the situation of Roma?
• Should Canada amend its asylum policy?

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