Monday, December 11, 2006

From Hanoi to Praha

From Prague Monitor 3 Dec 2007

Právo: Germany fears influx of Vietnamese from ČR
By ČTK / Published 3 December 2007

Accusations of corruption against the Czech embassy in Hanoi have become stronger with the approaching Czech entry to the Schengen area and the German Intelligence Service BND even mentioned it in its internal report warning against a possible influx of Vietnamese to Germany, the daily Pravo wrote Friday. Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Zuzana Opletalova told CTK the ministry had no information about corruption at the embassy

The ministry has repeatedly said that numerous inspections at the embassy failed to prove any cases of corruption, adds Právo.

The Czech embassy in Hanoi at present faces a new wave of complaints about corrupt practices of its employees.

According to the Saxony daily Freie Presse, the BND pointed to the corruption at the Czech embassy in Vietnam in its secret report.

The report allegedly warns German authorities against an influx of Vietnamese to Germany from the Czech Republic after it joins Schengen, Pravo says.

"We have registered the fact, but we cannot comment on the working relations between Czech authorities and our German colleagues," Bohumil Srajer, spokesman of the Czech civilian intelligence UZSI that exchanges information with BND said.

"The biggest danger is that the issuing of non-transparent visas to Vietnamese threatens the implementation of the project of green cards that the Czech Republic plans to introduce for foreigners," lawyer Marek Sedlak who deals with the problem told Pravo.

"The system of green cards will not function if the people who would like to work in the Czech Republic would have to pay an additional up to 2500 crowns in bribes to obtain visas," he said.

According to the information from the Vietnamese embassy in Prague, Czech companies have asked for about 4000 workers from Vietnam, but these people are unable to obtain visas, Sedlak said.

"These are old anonymous complaints and our ministry's General Inspection has found no proof on the spot," Czech Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Zuzana Opletalova said.

"We have not received any proof from the intelligence service. In addition, Schengen will only change the practice of short-term visas while issuing of long-term visas will remain in the jurisdiction of Schengen member states," Opletalova said.

Nevertheless, the office of the Czech ombudsman is dealing with the situation at the Czech embassy in Hanoi.

"The reports are alarming. I would not view them as pressure exerted on the embassy by Vietnamese," lawyer Jan Chodera told Pravo.

He said he had sent a letter to Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg, proposing to change the procedure of issuing of Czech visas for the Vietnamese.

"Vietnamese applicants for Czech visas should first send written inquiries to the Czech embassy in Hanoi and the applicant should be invited to come to the embassy at a fixed day and at fixed time in written," Chodera proposed in his letter to Schwarzenberg.

Previously, Pravo wrote about the growing number of Vietnamese visa applicants' complaints about bribery of Czech embassy clerks.

At present, about 40,000 Vietnamese work and do business in the Czech Republic.

According to Pravo, 7,839 applications for long-term visas were submitted by Vietnamese last year, which is twice as many as in 2005.