What You Need To Know:
✓ The idea of a visa-free regime dates back to 2009 with the creation of the Eastern Partnership.
✓ The visa-free regime action plan began in 2010 under President Yanukovych. Ukraine had some criteria to fulfill, and still does as is evident with the many reforms taking place.
✓ For now, the process is once again delayed, because of the EU's fear of migration waves that could hinder this agreement.
Nevertheless, the visa-free regime is still an objective for Ukraine and Volodymyr Yermolenko declares that “We are in danger now because EU is voting at the end of June […] but in six months, by the end of the year, we can expect something”.
The Eastern Partnership was created in 2009 between the EU and several countries of Eastern Europe, including Ukraine. The aim is to improve relations with those countries and visa liberalization is one component of this rapprochement process. The visa-free regime action plan began in 2010 under President Yanukovych. Ukraine had some criteria to fulfill, and still does as is evident with the many reforms currently taking place. The process of visa liberalization is long and sometimes the goal seems to be close and sometimes very far. This is the case again, after another delay from the EU Ministers Council, which also has to deal with demands from other countries including Turkey, Kosovo and Georgia.
Since last year, the EU is facing a major migratory crisis, and is worried about granting visa-free travel to these countries. They fear a migratory wave from Ukraine because of the war at the East. Moreover, the Ministers Council also voted for a mechanism of quick suspension, permitting them to “turn back if a country fails to fulfill obligations and commitment” as was declared by Bernard Cazeneuve, the French Minister of Foreign Affairs.
“This is the key danger when you delay this process; there will be more and more Eurosceptic tensions inside of Ukraine,” says Yermolenko. Despite all that, Ukraine is still hopeful: the country has been told that the necessary efforts were made, so “we are in danger now because EU is voting at the end of June […] but in six months, by the end of the year, we can expect something”.
Hromadske’s Nataliya Gumenyuk and Andriy Kulykov spoke to Volodymyr Yermolenko, Hromadske journalist and expert in European affairs on the June 19th, 2016 during The Sunday Show in Kyiv.