11 June 2010
ESI in Kiev: Visa-free travel with the EU is achievable for Ukraine
Ukrainian Foreign Ministry in Kiev. Photo: ESI
Ukrainian Foreign Ministry in Kiev. Photo: ESI

At a visa conference in Kiev, Ukraine, ESI Senior Analyst Alexandra Stiglmayer stated that visa-free travel for Ukrainians will require hard work and reforms, which, however, are achievable so that Ukraine has a good chance to qualify for visa-free travel with the EU. She participated in the conference "Prospects of visa liberalisation by the EU for Ukraine and other Eastern European countries" organised by the Centre for Peace, Conversion and Foreign Policy of Ukraine and the Civic Initiative "Europe without Barriers" on 11 June 2010.

In addition to Alexandra, as well as Oleksandr Sushko and Iryna Sushko from the two organising NGOs, the speakers at the conference included the Ukrainian Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Pavlo Klimkin, senior officials from the Ministries of Justice and the Interior, a member of the parliament, and a representative of the European Policy Centre in Brussels.

Alexandra used the experience from the Western Balkans to stress and illustrate three points:

  • Visa-free travel is a realistic and achievable goal for Ukraine;
  • Visa-free travel will not be a political gift from the EU, but it will require hard work, which, however, is doable; and
  • It is in the EU's interest that Ukraine succeeds and meets the conditions for visa-free travel.

Under the EU's Eastern Partnership, the EU has offered the six Eastern partner countries (Ukraine, Moldova, Georgia, Armenia, Azerbaijan and Belarus) visa-free travel as a long-term goal. In January 2008, Ukraine/EU visa facilitation and readmission agreements entered into force as first step towards this goal, and in October 2008 a visa dialogue between Ukraine and the Commission was launched.

Now, at a Ukraine/EU Troika JLS ministerial meeting on 9 June 2010, Ukraine was promised a visa roadmap, which will be modelled after the Western Balkan roadmaps, but called "action plan for visa liberalisation" in the case of the Eastern partner countries. The government has received a questionnaire based on which the Commission intends to formulate the action plan, which is scheduled to be handed over to Ukraine at the Ukraine/EU Summit in the autumn.

Alexandra Stiglmayer (right). Photo: ESI
Alexandra Stiglmayer (right). Photo: ESI