Travelling to Europe is not getting easier for Ukrainians
The number of passengers travelling between Ukraine and EU significantly decreased
The number of passengers travelling between Ukraine and the EU countries has decreased more than two and a half times during the last months. According to Polskie Radio, Ukrainian diplomats are saying that the implementation of much discussed agreement on simplified visa regime leaves much to be desired. European Union has already accused Ukraine of not regulated readmission and weak defence of borders.
Despite numerous promises, Ukrainians do not experience any simplifications in receiving a Shengen visa. Such is a sad conclusion of Ukrainian diplomats. Quite often visa fee is higher than it should be, the terms for issuing visas are violated. Numerous are also the cases when citizens of Ukraine are treated in an impudent way, says Konstiantyn Yeliseyev, deputy of the foreign minister of Ukraine:
‘The implementation of agreement about simplified visa regime is limping, primarily with its EU leg. And the most typical deviations are the following: overpayment of visa fee, sometimes visa applications are processed an incredibly long period of time, additional documents are required to confirm the aim of travelling.’
State Security Service of Ukraine have even produced evidence of corruption in certain diplomatic institutions when visas for Ukrainians are issued. Therefore, they believe a general visa committee should be created, and diplomats from various countries should be invited to Ukraine to witness the problems. Such is the opinion of Valentyn Nalyvaichenko, an acting head of Security Service of Ukraine:
‘We are ready to send a representative from our structure to show the facts of corruption within home military service which send people to consulates without queuing in common line; this concerns also workers of our structure who take bribes. We’ve got the documents which show how on the way to submitting visa application some Ukrainians pay extra fees on each stage.’
Europeans are explaining the problems from their side with the lack of experience in implementing the agreement, with acts of visa fraud, as well as with the huge number of citizens willing to get a visa. It’s a banal fact, but there are not enough custom houses and border checkpoints, says a representative of the Polish Embassy in Ukraine, Vladimir Herets:
‘Only six passing places for pedestrians, with long lines . Then we constantly receive complaints, people are complaining to us, to the borderline services. Also, there are similar problems with transport.’
Probably, the first victims of bad implementation of the agreement about simplified visa regime are international transporters. Some countries have even made their regime more complicated. Mykhailo Mazhurytsky, head of Association of Internations Transporters:
‘The German Consulate is demanding both invitation from the German side and confirmation of registration of the German firm to which one travels with goods. There also a lot of problems with Italian Consulate.’
The fact that the agreement is not being implemented has prompted some MPs of Verkhonna Rada to initiate the cancellation of free visas for citizens of certain countries. Diplomats, nevertheless, continue to expect that eventually no-visa regime will come into force by 2012 when Ukraine will be hosting the Euro Football Championships.