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Romania excluded from Visa Waiver Program

Vineri, 10 august 2007, 0:00

The embassies of the six states rejected from the Visa Waiver program - an initiative allowing European citizens to visit USA for 90 days without needing a visa - sent a common statement to the State Department, criticizing the criteria used for the admission in this program.
"Some of the close allies of the Unites States will continue to be submitted to artificial criteria that do not reflect their commitment and involvement in maintaining the global and transatlantic security", the statement reads.

After employing in May a lobby agency to promote Romania's interests in Washington, Foreign Minister Adrian Cioroianu expressed his confidence in Romania being accepted, mainly due to the "participation effort Romania makes in the war on terrorism".

A US State Department report places Romania in the front position in visa denials, with 34.1% of the visa applications still being rejected. All countries with a rejection rate over 25% were left out of the Visa Waiver program.

Sources in the Foreign Ministry say that Romanian officials were never informed by the US Embassy in Bucharest about the figures and that the rejection rate was communicated solely by the Embassy.

The Czech Republic was the only state to be included in the program, out of seven candidates. Romania, Hungary, Slovakia, Poland, Lithuania and Latvia were rejected.

"In recent months, a frustrated European Union has been pressing the United States to extend visa-free access to all 27 EU members.

Americans aren't required to get tourist visas beforehand to travel anywhere in the EU. They only need to show their passports.

The EU has threatened restrictions on American travelers heading to Europe if changes weren't made to U.S. policy.

"We can no longer tolerate first- and second-class member states," said Franco Frattini, the European Commission's vice president in charge of justice issues.", USA Today reads in its online edition.

"(...)Hungary, Poland and Romania have been left out in the cold. All three are EU states, NATO members and strong backers of U.S. anti-terrorism efforts. All three have sent troops to Afghanistan or been part of the U.S.-led coalition in Iraq", the newspaper continues.

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