On February 7, the Hospodárske noviny economic daily reported on a statement by Richard C. Barth, assistant secretary of the U.S. Homeland Security Department, who visited Prague on February 6.
According to the daily, Barth said that he would be happy if all candidate countries were included in the Visa Waiver Program by the end of 2009. As the daily points out, some EU countries have overtaken Slovakia in its efforts to be included in the programme.
Barth said that the United States could scrap visa requirements for Czechs, Greeks and Estonians by the end of this year. It will be known in September whether Slovakia has met an important criterion for abolishing the visa regime: if the visa rejection rate has fallen to a maximum of ten percent. Slovakia’s rejection rate is currently 12 percent, while Estonia and the Czech Republic have already met the condition.
Rastislav Káčer, the Slovak Ambassador to Washington, has warned that Slovakia must meet this requirement to qualify for visa-free travel. SITA
Compiled by Zuzana Vilikovská from press reports
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