Greeks to be granted visa-free US travel

Greek citizens will soon be able to travel to the United States without first having to apply for a visa, as bilateral talks to include Greece in the US Visa Waiver Program (VWP) are close to completion, government sources have told Kathimerini. Ongoing talks, which reached a breakthrough in March, are set to culminate in the drafting of a memorandum of understanding (MoU) «within a matter of days,» according to US sources. The Greek government is then expected to submit the MoU to Parliament for ratification, as requested by Washington. According to sources, US negotiators pushed for the memorandum to be rubber-stamped by Parliament as this will make it easier for Washington to access the personal data of Greeks traveling to the US. However, the Greek government has rebuffed US demands for access to information about passengers who may be suspected of having links to terrorism. The objection of the Greek side on this point had reportedly been one of the main sticking points in bilateral negotiations on the visa issue. Over the past few weeks a US delegation has been visiting border posts, airports and ports across the country to assess security measures. It has also visited the Greek Police’s National Passport Center to check the procedures that accompany the issuing of travel documents. Greece is the only country of the original 15 nations of the European Union, prior to May 1 2004 enlargement, whose citizens require a visa to enter the United States.