New EU members establish coalition for visa equality

Prague Daily Monitor
New York, Sept 21 (CTK) – The foreign ministers of the Visegrad Four (V4) and Baltic countries agreed Thursday to establish a coalition for visa equality to jointly strive for visa-free relations with the US, Czech Foreign Minister Alexandr Vondra said after their meeting.

Within the coalition, the foreign ministers of the V4 countries — the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia — and the Baltic states — Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania — will coordinate their activities to achieve equal visa conditions for all EU members states.

“All foreign affairs ministers have expressed the conviction that our activities and strategies in this area must be coordinated,” Vondra said.

The ministers share the view that the EU must play an important role in this respect and that they should coordinate their activities not only in Washington but also in Brussels.

The meeting was one of Vondra’s steps in his effort to lift US visa requirements for Czech citizens.

“I think that the discussion on visas must be transferred from clerks to politicians’ hands, and today’s meeting was a successful step in this direction,” Vondra added.

The cooperation started in May when V4 and Baltic ambassadors to the US sent letters explaining the visa regime to the US Congress.

Another cooperation phase will link to the campaign that the Czech Republic launched on September 18.

Within the campaign, the association American Friends of the Czech Republic has sent an appeal to Czech expatriates and relevant US organisations, institutions and individuals asking their elected representative in Congress for support for the Czech Republic being included among countries with visa-free relations.