Visa-free travel for Ukrainian citizens for stays up to 90 days has been approved by the 28 European Union member states. The new visa arrangement must now be approved by the European Parliament.
As reported by Deutsche Welle (DW), Germany’s international broadcaster, visa liberalisation had long been sought by Kyiv, especially since Russia’s annexation of the Crimean peninsula and its ongoing support of rebels in eastern Ukraine.
The prospect of visa-free travel was introduced as part of an EU-Ukraine partnership accord signed in 2014. In return for closer overall cooperation with Ukraine, the EU stipulated that the country had to commit to a number of civil society reforms, largely aimed at combating corruption.
“Credible reform is the right path and should be encouraged,” Peter Javorcik, Slovak ambassador to the EU said in a statement. Slovakia currently holds the bloc’s six-month rotating presidency.
“I am also delighted that our decision is able to send a positive message in the run up to the EU-Ukraine Summit on 24 November,” Javorcik added.
Ina separate report, the Reuters news agency noted that many difficulties to progress remain, not least Ukraine’s sluggish fight against endemic corruption and the EU’s caution on immigration after the arrival of about 1.3 million refugees and migrants in 2015, mainly from the Middle East and North Africa.