Why do Czechs need a visa to travel to the United States while US citizens only need a passport to visit the Czech Republic? This is a question that comes up again and again. The US authorities have two main answers: the terrorist attacks of September 2001 have led to a stricter visa policy to protect national security; secondly the number of Czechs who enter the United States on a tourist visa to work there illegally is estimated at tens of thousands and has to be regulated. Both arguments sound pretty convincing, but some Czechs are not willing
The United States ambassador to Prague, William Cabaniss, says there is
little chance of the US lifting visa requirements for Czechs in the
near future. But speaking after a meeting with Mr Cabaniss at the US
embassy, Czech Prime Minister Jiri Paroubek said he believed the United
States would change its position and lift the restrictions.
Meanwhile, the Czech ambassador to Washington, Petr Kolar, told Mlada fronta Dnes the Czech Republic would use a number of avenues to try to lobby US congressmen to support the abolition of visa requirements for Czechs, which he referred to as a strategic mistake.
According to Friday's issue of The Washington Times, the United States is close to completing a deal that will result in the creation of a third ground-based missile interceptor site in Europe. The candidate nations for the site are Poland, the Czech Republic and Britain, a senior U.S. defence official told the paper. More than 100 million dollars is already authorised for the site, which is part of the global U.S. missile defence system now oriented toward Asia. A spokesman for the Czech Defence Ministry said the Czech Republic had not received any specific offer, adding that longterm consultations had been held only at NATO level.
Former Czech President and human rights advocate Vaclav Havel has
spoken out against the United States' strict visa policy towards the
Czech Republic. Mr Havel said the USA was being pedantic and to some
extent absurd. Millions of Mexicans cross the border with bags of
cocaine and heroin, but the authorities are worried about the Czech
student staying too long, Mr Havel told the CTK news agency.
But unlike foreign minister Cyril Svoboda, Mr Havel believes reciprocal measures against US citizens are not necessary. Instead, Czechs should get the word out by openly talking about it, joking about it, and writing about it in papers, such as the New York Times, Mr Havel suggests.
The Czech government is resolved to take a tougher line with the US over visas, Prime Minister Jiri Paroubek told journalists after Wednesday's Cabinet meeting. The Czech Republic has been pressing for years to change the imbalance in the two countries visa policies. While US citizens only need a valid passport to enter the Czech Republic, Czechs still require visas to go to the United States. The PM said this was strange given the fact that the Czech Republic was one of a few countries which staunchly supported US policy. Foreign Minister Cyril Svoboda advocated a tougher approach also towards Canada and Australia where the visa situation is the same.
Viktor Kozeny, the so-called Pirate of Prague, is currently sitting in a police cell in his adopted home of the Bahamas, after being arrested by the FBI. On Thursday US federal prosecutors charged him and two other men with participating in a scheme to bribe senior government officials in Azerbaijan over lucrative oil privatisation deals. He now faces extradition to the U.S. But as Rob Cameron reports, Czech investors who say they were defrauded by Mr Kozeny have little hope of seeing their money again.
Some 200 locals and tourists gathered on Prague's Wenceslas Square on Wednesday evening for a jazz concert in aid of New Orleans. The charity concert was organized at the initiative of Czech musicians and was held under the auspices of Senate chairman Premysl Sobotka. Among the performers were Milan Svoboda, the Prague Big Band Orchestra and Jiri Stivin. People could contribute cash on the spot or make a donation via an SMS text message.
Founded nearly twenty years ago in a Sokol community hall in America's heartland, the Czechoslovak Genealogical Society International now boasts close to four thousand members, from all fifty states in the Union and around the globe. For the first time in its history, this society of amateur and professional genealogists held its biannual congress in "the homeland."
President Vaclav Klaus, on a visit to the US, has met with US
Vice-President Dick Cheney at the White House. After talks on Thursday Mr
Klaus told reporters the United States had attentively followed the
situation in Europe concerning recent German elections. Mr Klaus also said
he and the US vice-president discussed Czech aid to the victims of
Hurricane Katrina, as well as such issues as the Middle East, Afghanistan
Earlier, on Wednesday, Mr Klaus met US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.
Jana Ciglerová: Americans say their lives are fantastic, Czechs say everything is terrible – neither is true
Study: Demand for new flats in Prague set to keep outstripping supply
“There is good, better and then there is the USSR.” – New book depicts life in communist Czechoslovakia through memories of people who experienced it
CzechTourism head hints attracting tourists no longer agency’s main goal
“The only solution is political” – Organisers of major anti-government protests in Czechia announce plans for the future