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PRESS digest: PRAVDA DAILY

News item: President George W. Bush announces he will work with Congress to ease travel restrictions for citizens of Central and Eastern European countries.


"When visas are no more"
By Andrej Matišák


American presidents are often very successful in their second terms. The knowledge that they cannot serve another term frequently encourages them to embark on bold projects. One such interesting initiative by President George W Bush concerns us as well - a visa-free relationship with the United States, which is a goal we have never been able to achieve, even though Bush has often praised us and once even visited this country.

America in recent years has scored a number of black marks in world opinion, some with good reason, others entirely innocently. Although it often doesn't look like it, even Washington cares a little bit about its image, among its allies as well as elsewhere. The proposal to cancel the visa regime will give the US a good mark, although how quickly we can expect this policy to become reality depends on a number of factors.

First, Bush will have to convince a Democratic Congress to change the visa program, and this might prove politically difficult. However, the millions of emigrants from Central and Eastern Europe who live in the US could remind Congress that the US is still a country of immigrants.

Much depends also on Slovaks, however. We may complain about the high number of rejected applications to visit the US, but we can't complain when one of us overstays his visa. In such cases there is also a security issue, and in the world today that is a priority.

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