Ukraine has been enraged by the comments of the EU Commissioner for External Relations and Neighbourhood Policy Mrs. Benita Ferrero-Waldner to the Ukrainian newspaper "Delo" of September 20, 2007, according to the comment of the representative of Ukraine ambassador Roman Shpek. Mrs. Benita Ferrero-Waldner claimed in her interview about the EU intention not to ratify the visa facilitation agreement until Ukraine abolishes visas for Romania and Bulgaria, and that the Ukraine`s alleged refusal to do so "affects the authority of the president, the prime minister and Ukraine itself".

Mr. Shpek’s statement reads as follows:

“In this regard I would like to emphasize that this issue was already discussed during the Kyiv EU-Ukraine Summit on September 14, 2007. At the Summit the Ukrainian side provided explanations that the decision to extend a visa-free regime to Bulgaria and Romania was studied and would be adopted following due internal procedures. In my opinion, the EU side should respect that. I would like to remind that the 2005 decision to abolish visa requirements for EU citizens was an act of goodwill from the Ukrainian part. The EU side has no grounds to demand in the ultimatum-like manner that such regime be extended automatically to the new Member States. In this regard we are concerned by the EU intentions to go back on the agreed parallel ratification of the visa facilitation and readmission agreements.

In fact, I am surprised not so much with the interview of Mrs. Ferrero-Waldner, as with the EU silence on the practice of groundless and humiliating visa refusals to Ukrainian citizens in the hands of consular missions of certain Member States, as well as with the activities of intermediary visa centres on their behalf. Such a practice gravely contravenes the provisions of the visa facilitation agreement signed in June this year.

The need to address these problems has been recognized by the parties in the Joint Statement of the Kyiv Summit. I have to remind that a principle of unity and coherence of external actions of the Community and the Member States remains a fundamental EU legal principle. We expect that this principle will be followed without exceptions in EU-Ukraine relations.

It is regrettable that a respected EU institution resorts to the language of ultimata and blackmail in the discussion of these issues. In my opinion, this is not a language which should be used in the dialogue between good and reliable partners such as EU and Ukraine.

I am convinced that the parties will manage to resolve in a constructive spirit of partnership the issues of visa-free regime for Bulgaria and Romania, as well as the adequate practice of visa issuance for Ukrainian citizens before the visa facilitation and readmission agreements take effect.”