Final Word from Tuesday, May 27, 2003

Even some Czechs who would have no trouble getting a visa to the U.S. are beginning to wonder whether it's worth it. Not only must they now undergo a mandatory interview and pay a higher fee, but as of next year they'll also be fingerprinted and photographed upon arrival. After EU accession, the U.S. will require airlines to give it details of a traveler's credit card, phone contacts, religious affiliation and any special dietary requirements. The reaction in the Czech media to the fingerprinting and photographing has been universally negative but relatively infrequent, making it hard to gauge the true level of the backlash. Analyst Martin Švehla says that Václav Klaus apparently has his finger on public opinion. By taking a cautious stance toward the U.S., Švehla says, Honorary ODS Chair Klaus is keeping the election interests of his former party more in mind than his strongly pro-American colleagues in ODS.


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