Prague - Canada will abolish visa requirements for Czech citizens, implemented in July 2009 in response to a growing number of asylum requests by Czech Romas.
Canadian ambassador to the Czech Republic Otto Jelinek has confirmed the move, which was previously announced by Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper last month.
The Czech diplomacy has thus achieved one of its most important objectives.
Initially, the Czech Republic unsuccessfully tried to convince other European Union members to press Canada to abolish the visas. Eventually, when then Prime Minister Petr Necas spoke to Harper during a NATO summit in Chicago in May 2012, he threatened to veto the planned trade agreement between the EU and Canada.
This agreement is very important for Canada: its government estimates that once it is implemented, the treaty will generate CAD 12 billion a year for the Canadian economy. When Harper announced his intention to abolish visas for Czech nationals, he said that Canada was interested in a free movement of people and goods with the EU.
Talks on the trade agreement have been very complicated and have lasted for four years. The most disputed issues were exports of Canadian beef to the EU and European milk products to Canada.
Several months ago, Canada also decided not to introduce visa requirements for Hungarian citizens, citing a sharp drop of asylum requests by Hungarian Romas.
Last year, the Canadian parliament approved a bill that allows the Canadian authorities to grant an asylum request or deport unsuccessful asylum seekers much more quickly.
However, Rumania last month threatened to veto the Canada-EU trade agreement for the same reason the Czech Republic did last year. Rumanian Foreign Minister Titus Corlatean said that Rumania wanted the same treatment as the Czech Republic.
Rumania and Bulgaria are the only EU member states whose citizens still need visas to enter Canada.
The trade agreement must be ratified by all 27 EU member states.