Re: We should be there, Volume 11, Number 12, March 28 - April 3, 2005
Mr Thayer [chargé d'affaires at the US embassy in Bratislava] claims that it is up to Slovakia to reduce the visa denial rate to below three percent. Pure sophistry! The ones who control the visa denial rate are the American consular officials acting according to policies set by the Bush administration.
As Radek Kohl, senior analyst at the Institute for International Relations in Prague has pointed out, "If the US wants to keep visa regimes in place, it can just keep turning down a certain percentage."
Prior to 9/11 it was much easier to obtain a visa to travel from an Eastern European country to the United States. Not anymore. Let's hope that the United States government wakes up to how its harsh visa policies have damaged America's image in Europe.
New Zealand and Japan have initiated visa waiver agreements with new EU states. It's time that the United States did so as well, without trying to shift the onus of reducing the visa denial rate onto the shoulders of Slovakia, Poland, Lithuania, and other EU states.
28. Mar 2005 at 0:00