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Letter to the Editor: British Visa regime still hurts

Dear Editor,

What follows is an open letter and actually a true story. The Slovak names have been withheld because the people involved do not want to draw the attention of MI6 (UK equivalent of the KGB).

Recently I had a chance to discuss in person with the UK Ambassador to Slovakia David Lyscom and his wife Dr. Nicole Lyscom the situation regarding the restriction of Visas for entry into the UK by Slovak citizens. I was assured that the situation was now completely under control and that the British Embassy in Bratislava had improved its staff situation to cope with all expected demands for visas.

Unfortunately, the Ambassador is probably not standing outside his Embassy at 2 o'clock every morning to see the Slovak citizens standing there. Why are they standing there at 2 o'clock in the morning, he might casually ask. He would then receive a polite answer, which might go something like this:

"Your excellency, I arrived yesterday morning at the reasonable time of 8 o'clock, bearing in mind that the Embassy does not actually open for business until much later. After standing in the queue, I was turned away by your staff at 9.30 because there were not enough Visa staff to cope with the 50 or so Slovaks in front of me. After discussion with other disappointed colleagues it transpired that I must return and stand before your Embassy doors at the ungodly hour of 2 a.m. or I would have to spend a third night awaiting the gracious perusal of my application for an entry Visa to Great Britain. Should this application be unsuccessful I will have to travel to Prague or Budapest, as many of my ethnic Slovak friends have done, where I can apply to become a citizen and change my ethnicity to another which is more attractive to your country's New Labour government."

Maybe this might come as a shock to the Ambassador, but then as his wife remarked to me, 'Perhaps we do not speak to the ordinary Slovak and therefore have a different perspective on the situation.'

I apologise to all Slovaks for the outrageous and discourteous way the UK government feels disposed to treat reasonable, honest and hardworking Slovak citizens.

John Edwin Skelton.
Banská Bystrica

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