Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky says his European partners have assured him that there are no threats to the visa-free regime between Ukraine and the EU, and Ukraine fulfills all the necessary criteria.
He announced this at a joint press conference with High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy / Vice-President of the European Commission Josep Borrell in the wake of the 22nd Ukraine-EU summit in Brussels on October 6, according to an UNIAN correspondent.
"Partners from the European Union assured that nothing threatens the visa-free regime, and Ukraine strictly fulfills all the necessary criteria. And as soon as the difficult epidemic situation allows, Ukrainians will be able to plan trips to Europe again," Zelensky said.
"It is worth emphasizing that the European Union takes note of Ukraine's significant progress in implementing key reforms over the past year. This is the introduction of the land market, the adoption of a banking law, the development of decentralization, the start of the work of the High Anti-Corruption Court," he said.
The president noted that the authorities were not going to stop on the path to positive changes in Ukraine, and further reform priorities, including strengthening the rule of law in Ukraine, had been discussed during the summit.
Developments seen as threat to EU visa-free travel
- On August 21, Prosecutor General Iryna Venediktova signed an order to dismiss Deputy Prosecutor General and Specialized Anti-Corruption Prosecutor's Office (SAPO) chief Nazar Kholodnytsky, approving his resignation.
- On September 17, the Verkhovna Rada appointed parliamentary members to the commission to select a new SAPO chief: Olena Busol, Andriy Hudzhal, Oleksiy Drozd, Kateryna Koval, Bohdan Romaniuk, Viacheslav Navrotsky, and Yevhen Sobol.
- The European Parliament's Rapporteur for Ukraine, MEP Michael Gahler, and the Vice-Chair of the Delegation to the EU-Ukraine Parliamentary Association Committee, MEP Viola von Cramon-Taubadel, expressed concern over the Verkhovna Rada's move.
- "While international community is occupied with Belarus, Ukraine's government is hastily pushing candidates lacking experience and integrity to select SAPO head. This will not fly. Ukraine's government is jeopardizing visa-free with the EU and further trance of EUR 1.5 billion assistance," Viola von Cramon-Taubadel wrote on Twitter on September 17.
- The U.S. Embassy in Kyiv also commented on the developments. "The U.S. and the EU take note of the Rada decision to appoint members to the commission to choose the Specialized Anti-Corruption Prosecutor. The commission needs to embark on a transparent process with candidates' integrity and merits at its core. Our further support will depend upon it," the Embassy wrote on Facebook on September 17.
- In turn, First Deputy Foreign Minister Emine Dzhaparova says Ukraine's Ministry of Foreign Affairs does not see any grounds for the European Union's revising visa-free travel with Ukraine.
- Later, Viola von Cramon-Taubadel, Gahler, and MEP Rasa Juknevičienė sent a letter to the chairman of Ukraine's Servant of the People parliamentary faction, David Arakhamia, where they explained that there is a danger that Ukraine will lose visa-free travel benefits and EU financial support.
- The MEPs pointed to a number of shortcomings in the policy of the government and parliament, in particular the pro-government faction, and said that the EU could abolish visa-free travel for oligarchs and politicians involved in resisting the implementation of reforms, including anti-corruption ones.