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DHS and DOJ Sign Agreement on Enhancing Cooperation in Preventing and Combating Crime with the Slovak Republic

Release Date: October 8, 2008

For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
Contact: 202-282-8010

U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Michael Chertoff and U.S. Department of Justice Deputy Attorney General Mark Filip signed an agreement today on enhancing cooperation in preventing and combating crime with Slovak Republic Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Interior Robert Kaliňák.

“I commend our Slovak partners for this important step toward an expanded and more secure Visa Waiver Program,” said Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff. “Sharing law enforcement information is fundamental to combating transnational crime and discouraging criminal and terrorist travel. This agreement brings us closer to a much anticipated day when America will welcome visa free travelers from Slovakia.”

Secretary Chertoff, Deputy Attorney General Filip, and Slovak Minister of Interior Kaliňák signed a Memorandum of Understanding in March regarding the Slovak Republic’s candidacy for the Visa Waiver Program (VWP) that required, among other things, an agreement between the countries on information sharing for certain criminal activity.

The security enhancements outlined in the first declaration represent important requirements of the modernized VWP. They include better information sharing about international travel and border screening, improvements in information exchange on known and suspected terrorists, timely and comprehensive reporting of lost and stolen passports, and enhancement to airport and aviation security.

The agreement is the final substantive step by the Slovak Republic to fulfill its requirements for designation as a member of the VWP. 

The VWP allows travelers from a number of countries to visit the United States for short tourist or business trips without the requirement of obtaining a visa. There are 27 countries that currently participate in the VWP, including several members of the European Union. 

The Administration sought authority to reform the VWP for years, and the Congress passed legislation last year allowing for an expansion to a number of additional countries, including the Slovak Republic. The legislation requires that candidate countries cooperate with the United States to share information in security and law enforcement-related areas. 

This legislation also mandates certain improvements to the VWP for all participating countries, such as a requirement that travelers first obtain an online approval to travel under the newly established Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA). Of the more than 136,000 ESTA applications filed so far, over 99.5 percent have been approved, the vast majority in less than one minute. For additional information about the VWP, as well as the new ESTA requirement, please visit https://esta.cbp.dhs.gov.


This page was last reviewed/modified on October 8, 2008.