Canada hits out at EU over visa spat

Agence France Presse

Posted at Oct 24 2009 11:41 AM | Updated as of Oct 25 2009 03:52 PM

OTTAWA - Canada on Friday lamented threats made by the European Union in an ongoing visa dispute between Ottawa and the 27-member bloc, calling for "constructive dialogue" to end the dispute.

Canadian Foreign Minister Lawrence Cannon hit out EU Justice Commissioner Jacques Barrot, who has warned Canada must lift tough visa requirements for Czechs by the end of the year, or face retaliatory measures.

"I regret the fact that Mr. Barrot chose to speak of threats while the solution lies in a constructive dialogue," Cannon said.

In a barbed statement, Cannon also praised the Frenchman's colleagues at the European Council, a Brussels body that often vies for power with Barrot and other members of the Commission.

"I recently met with the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Sweden and President of the Council of the European Union, Mr. Carl Bildt... where the subject of visas was discussed in a positive way," Cannon said.

In July, Canada imposed visa requirements for travelers from the Czech Republic, an EU member, after refugee claims soared particularly among Roma people. It took similar action against Mexico.

Barrot had earlier warned that "unless the measures we are proposing are established in a satisfactory manner by the by end of 2009, then we will recommend re-imposing requirements for certain categories of Canadian citizens."