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Statement of the Visegrad-4 and Baltic-3 Foreign Ministers, Brussels, 13 November 2006





The Ministers of Foreign Affairs of the V4 (Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, Slovakia) and B3 countries (Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania) expressed their firm interest in joining the Schengen area by the seven countries in October 2007 according to the original timetable. If this target date that was set and reaffirmed at the level of Heads of State and Government at the European Council in June 2006 would be delayed significantly for technical reasons it would affect the credibility of the EU in the public opinion in the new EU Member States. In view of the coordination meeting of the Interior Ministers in Vilnius on 30 November 2006, the V4 and B3 countries will continue to cooperate closely within the EU to make the Schengen enlargement possible by October 2007. The V4 and B3 countries call on the European Commission and the Member States to reaffirm their commitments and to work closely in order to that the enlargement of the Schengen area will take place in the shortest possible time perspective.
 
The V4 and B3 countries expressed their readiness to work within the "Coalition for Visa Equality", with an aim of reaching visa reciprocity with the United States, i.e. visa-free travel to the USA for their citizens in the shortest possible time. The seven countries have agreed that the visa issue needs to be addressed on two levels. The first level puts emphasis on the engagement of the European Commission in conjunction with the respective EU Presidency, whereas the second one translates into direct communication with the relevant US authorities.
 
Brussels, 13 November 2006

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