Prague- The number of Czechs, mainly Romanies, seeking asylum in Canada has been rising and it reached 470 in mid-July, but Canadian authorities so far do not intend to re-introduce visas for Czech citizens, which were lifted last November, the Czech Interior Ministry says in its report.
"The rising number of Czech [asylum] applicants can result in the situation untenable for the Canadian Citizenship and Immigration Ministry, responsible for Canadian visa policy," says the report that Interior Minister Ivan Langer will submit to the cabinet on Wednesday.
Magdalena Firtova, spokesman for the Canadian Embassy in Prague, admitted in July the possibility to re-introduce visa requirements for Czechs if the influx of Czech asylum applicants in Canada did not fade way.
Canada once re-introduced visas for Czech citizens in 1997 after lifting them for a short period, in reaction to a high number of asylum seekers from the the Czech Republic, primarily Romanies.
According to the Interior Ministry, the situation has repeated now.
"A crushing majority of Czech asylum applicants are of Romany origin," the ministry said.
Canadian Minister for Citizenship and Immigration Diana Finley said in June the number of asylum applicants is only one of 14 criteria that the Canadian authorities take into consideration when assessing visa policy.
Finley and Czech Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg agreed that both countries would cooperate to decrease the number of Czech asylum applicants in Canada.
To maintain visa-free relations, the Czech Republic and Canada should apply such mechanisms that would really help lower the applications' number, the Interior Ministry points out.
"However, the Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada, a quasi-government institution, that makes decisions on asylum applications and whose members decide independently,0 will pay a very significant role," the ministry added.
A total of 1677 Czech citizens sought asylum in Canada from 1996 to 2000, 962 of whom were granted asylum.
The Canadian authorities registered the highest number of applications in 1997 when 1221 Czech citizens sought asylum. In 2000 this figure decreased to the mere 53 Czechs.