Czech ambassador recalled over new Canada visa rules

July 14, 2009

The Czech government has reacted to new Canadian visa requirements imposed on its citizens by recalling its ambassador and demanding some Canadians to have visas when they enter the Czech Republic.

Canadian diplomats and Canadians visiting the Czech Republic on business will now require visas, the Czech government said.

The move to recall ambassador Karel Zebrakovsky was made as new Canadian visa requirements came into effect for citizens of Mexico and the Czech Republic. The Canadian government has said the visa requirements are needed to cope with a rise in refugee claims by visitors from those countries.

Canada’s new visa law took effect at 12:01 a.m. ET on July 14. For the first 48 hours, Mexicans and Czechs will be able to apply for entry on arrival in Canada. However, after 11:59 p.m. Wednesday, July 15, they must hold a valid visa.

Mexico is now the top source of refugee claims, with the Czech Republic ranking second.

Czech Prime Minister Jan Fischer has criticised Canada's move as one-sided and wrong. He added he would ask the European Union to help restore the Czech Republic's visa-free status.

In a statement, the Mexican government said it regretted Canada's decision and will back moves to modify the decision. Mexico has not announced it will take any measures in response.

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