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13 November, 2013 20:23   ▪  

The Economist: visa-related incidents are damaging the EU's image in Ukraine

Ukrainians can enter Russia and Belarus without an international passport. At the same time getting a Shengen visa is a messy procedure which is often followed by absurd incidents. This situation influences badly EU’s image in Ukraine, The Economist says

“For Ukrainians a Schengen visa is a golden ticket because it allows them to travel to the European Union. In 2012, almost 1.3m visa were issued to Ukrainians, second only to Russians. Many hope that an association agreement with the EU, if it is signed later this month, will make it easier for Ukrainians to travel westward. But at a time when Brussels should be reaching out to ordinary Ukrainians, visa-related incidents are damaging the EU's image,” The Economist claims.

Last month a group of 20 Ukrainian journalists was invited to Brussels for an event on Ukraine's integration with the EU at the European Parliament. But instead of the one year multiple-entry visas they had applied for, (and which are customary for journalists), they were issued single-entry visas valid for just two days.

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Over the past years, dozens of Ukrainian journalists and intellectuals have had trouble obtaining EU visas, as have many others, including students. Some cases border on the absurd; Taras Prokhasko, a well-known Ukrainian author, was asked by visa authorities to prove that he really is a writer.

“The EU has been easing its visa regime with Ukraine and with Moldova. As part of this visa liberalisation action plan, it has simplified the application process for certain groups, including journalists, and the number of successful visa applications has subsequently increased. Yet aberrations still occur,” The Economist says.

Whereas visa-free travel to the EU remains a distant prospect, Ukrainians can enter Russia and Belarus without an international passport (an internal identity card is enough).

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