EU-Ukraine relations

It is always interesting to read about perspective of visa-free travel for the Ukrainians. Special report “Ukraine ups ante in EU visa-free travel talks” by Georgi Gotev (Euractive.com, Seprember,15) quite well describes current situation. I just would like to share some own considerations.

Doubtless, visa issue is one of the most important in EU-Ukraine relations. It is very sensitive for both sides.

Some EU member states are concerned about consequences of possible lifting of the visa regime. One should recognize they have some reasons. Millions of Ukrainians have already emigrated to the EU during last decade, many others would like do the same because of current Ukraine’s problems.

On the other hand millions of Ukrainians who do not intend leave country, feel themselves isolated from Europe. It is quite true that for us current visa regime is something like modern Berlin Wall. It harms very much people-to-people contacts, opportunity for business and travels and so on. Finally, it harms European perspectives of Ukraine – to be keen build Europe in Ukraine the Ukrainians would need to see Europe by own eyes. Strong visa regime considerably deprive them such possibility.

So, what about perspectives of visa-free travels for the Ukrainians in visible future? My opinion – it is impossible despite of all pretentious determination and desire of President Yanukovich.

As it was mentioned by Georgi Gotev, there are two big challenges for visa-free regime – huge corruption and undemocratic development in Ukraine. But both are sources for great enriching for the Ukrainian decision-makers. So it is difficult to expect they will sacrifice this to enable common Ukrainians visit EU freely. At least it would be great surprise and absolutely illogical. Thus those EU member-states who would not like give Ukraine visa-free regime can be unworried. As well as Europol.

For today it would be much more realistic and logical if the EU will make existing visa regime more flexible and, I would say, human. Of course, there is EU-Ukraine visa liberalization agreement, the Ukrainians get more and more Schengen visas annually. But it more seems like good external signboards. There are many difficulties, lack of understanding, burocracy behind.

Just one last example. Colleague of mine, famous Ukrainian journalist, is going visit Warsaw to cover future Eastern Partnership summit (September, 29-30). She applied to Polish consulate in Kyiv to give her at least two-years multi visa as before she had the same issued by other member-state’s consulate. But in the result she got visa just for three months. Once I had the same experience with Czech and German consulates. Such situations are very typical. Visa liberalization agreement provides 5-years visas for the journalists, but it is not the case on the practice. If there is such treatment of journalists in the EU consulates in Ukraine, it is easy imagine what is going on concerning other categories of the citizens. It needs immediate corrections. Visa-free regime is very important, but unfortunatelly it remains for future.

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