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Canada sees no problem in Czech Romany asylum seekers

Prague, 1.12.2008 20:10, (ROMEA)

Canada does not consider the Czech Romany asylum seekers a problem, but the issue needs to be monitored, Canadian Governor General Michaelle Jean said in Prague after meeting Czech President Vaclav Klaus today.

Jean said the visa lifting for Czechs was good for both Canada and the Czech Republic.

Klaus said he considered it very important that Jean did not see the Romany migration a big issue.

The influx of Romany asylum seekers has been permanently increasing since the lifting of Canadian visas for Czechs in November 2007.

Some 466 Czech Romanies applied for asylum in Canada from November 2007 to July 2008.

Canada lifted visas for Czechs already in April 1996, but in October 1997 it reimposed the visa regime due to a wave of Czech Romany migrants.

Jean said Canada had been accustomed to integration of foreigners and ascribed great importance to it. Apart from the government, Canadian non-governmental organisations pay attention to the problem, she said.

Canada values heterogeneity, Jean said, adding that she herself was an example of such an approach.

She said she arrived in Canada as a young girl when her family fled the dictatorian regime in Haiti.

Canada in the past was also opened to Czechs and at present there are about 80,000 Czechs living Canada, she said.

She said that Czech Romanies' emigration to Canada was not a problem but was something to which it was necessary to pay attention.

Canada considers the question of mobility important, Jean said.

Klaus admitted that the departure of Romanies from the country to Canada had caused certain tension but said he did not consider it something that could worsen relations with Canada.

"I consider the governor general's statement that it is not a big problem in relations between our countries of key importance," Klaus said.

On Saturday, when Jean arrived in Prague for a several-day visit, she said social problems persisted in Canada as well.

She said many positive things were being done in her country and that the Canadian society was open.

However, is is impossible to say that everything is in order. No society can maintain that racism does not exist in it, Jean said.

According to the daily Lidove noviny, Czech Romanies complained to Jean during her visit to Brno that their lives were threatened in the Czech Republic, that they did not have any perspective there and that most Czechs favoured neo-Nazis.

The Canadian Governor General is the representative of the British Queen in Canada.

CTK
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