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EU may drop visas for Ukraine before Association Agreement

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Poland has stated that the EU is likely to introduce a visa-free regime with Ukraine, before signing the Association Agreement, one of the three main pillars of the EU-Ukraine integration.

KYIV – The European Union may introduce a visa-free regime with Ukraine before signing the Association Agreement. Such a statement was made by the Undersecretary of State at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Poland, Katarzyna Pelczynska-Nalecz, reports Polskie Radio.

The Polish official reiterated that Poland supports the signing of the Association Agreement between the EU and Ukraine, as well as the creation of a free trade zone without special step-by-step ratification of the document.

“The issue of abolishing visas for the citizens of Ukraine is not associated with the ratification of the Association Agreement, and may be resolved earlier,” said Katarzyna Pelczynska-Nalecz, according to Korrespondent.

Visa liberalization, the Free Trade Agreement and the Association Agreement are three important pillars of the EU – Ukraine integration.

In July 2012, the EU and Ukraine extended the list of categories of the Ukrainian citizens who may undergo a simplified procedure to obtain visas to the EU. Currently, Ukraine is at stage one of the two-stage Visa Liberalization Action Plan, which provides for the establishment of a visa-free regime for short-term travel to the EU. Working toward the goal of a visa-free regime, Ukraine adopted the strategy of integrated border management, created the State Migration Service, responsible for managing citizenship, immigration, registration, and asylum issues. Furthermore, the Ukrainian government took steps towards personal data protection necessary to launch biometric IDs.

The Free Trade Agreement is a part of Ukraine’s Association Agreement (AA) with the EU. In 2011, Ukrainian parliament reconfirmed signing AA a priority of the country’s foreign policy. “European integration is a priority, it’s a primary direction for the development of the country,” reiterated the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine, Kostyantyn Hryshchenko, in September 2012.

Association Agreement has reached the final stage of initialing in July 2012, when the sides finished editing and coordinating approvals of the second – economic – part of the AA. The document creates a framework for cooperation and stipulates establishing closer economic, cultural, and social ties, as well as the creation of the free trade zone on the territories of the two entities. Now that the AA has been initialed, it is being translated into 24 languages and prepared for signing and the following ratification.

Theodore Koumelis
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