Poland agrees to ease controls along Ukrainain border
Poland, Ukraine allow visa-free passage for the two countries` residents
The foreign ministers of Poland and Ukraine on Tuesday initialled an agreement in Warsaw allowing visa-free passage for the two countries` residents along their border.
Speaking to the press after the signing, Poland`s Radoslaw Sikorski and Ukraine`s Wolodymyr Ohryzko said they hoped the agreement would be accepted by the European Commission by the end of March, according to DPA.
Seen "realistically," the first visa-free border crossing would take place in the summer, Sikorski said.
Poland is a member of the Schengen agreement which allows visa- free traffic between members, while Ukraine is not. Visa-free traffic between the two countries ended when Poland joined the Schengen region on December 21.
The staunch in the flow triggered protests, particularly among inhabitants of the border areas involved in the trade of Polish liquor and cigarettes.
Under the proposed agreement, Ukrainians and Poles living up to 50 kilometres from each side of the border could travel to the other country with a special permit valid for two years and allowing unbroken residence for 60 days.
According to Polish Foreign Ministry estimates, around 1.5 million Ukrainians are eligible for the permits.
Further, Sikorski assured his Ukrainian colleague of Poland`s support of Ukrainian advances toward the North Atlantic Treaty Organization and the European Union, saying that the Ukraine was a strategic partner for Poland.