Czech Republic signs memorandum with US on visas

26-02-2008

The Czech interior minister, Ivan Langer, has signed a memorandum of understanding with the United States which is the first step towards the Czech Republic being included in the US visa-waiver programme. Though not legally binding, the memorandum paves the way for a full deal between the two countries. US Secretary of Homeland Security Michael Chertoff, who co-signed the document in Washington, said if all went well Czechs would be able to travel to the States without a visa from the end of October or the beginning of November this year. However, to do so they will have to provide US authorities with personal data via the internet before being allowed to enter the country. The information in question is in line with an agreement reached between the US and the EU last year, the website Aktualne.cz reported.

Czech Prime Minister Mirek Topolánek, who also took part in the signing ceremony, said it was an historical moment; he said the agreement represented the fulfilment of a dream for generations of Czechs.