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REPORT -  Ukrainian Visa Liberalisation and Migration Policy: Paving the Way for EU-Ukraine Cooperation

The Wilfried Martens Centre for European Studies in cooperation with the Ukrainian Think Tanks Liaison Office in Brussels organized on 4th July a discussion on the state of implementation of reforms in Ukraine in visa liberalisation and migration policy areas.

It was build upon the findings of a research paper Reforming Ukrainian Visa Liberalisation and Migration Policy: Paving the Way for EU-Ukraine Cooperation (download) which tracked the record of reform in these sectors and showed how positive changes could offer opportunities for Ukraine and contribute to the EU-Ukraine cooperation in the migration area.

After registration Roland Freudenstein, police director of Martence Centre welcomed the participants and attendees.

“We care about a free and prosperous, democratic Ukraine” — he said.

Than discussion moderator Olena Prystayko introduced Ukrainian analysts Kateryna Kulchytska (Europe without barriers) and Andriy Solodko (CEDOS).

Ukraine has met all the benchmarks of Visa Liberalization Action Plan (VLAP). Visa liberalization process pushed the establishment of legal framework for issuing new biometrical passports, the adoption the new State Development Strategy for State Border Guard Service, reforms in other policy areas, such as anti-corruption, judiciary system, human trafficking and fundamental rights. Due to this Ukraine became a safer neighbour for EU, Kateryna said.

Andriy concentrated on migration analyses, speaking about integration policy programs for the refugees and asylum seekers, the migrants and the internally displaced persons. He noticed that a weak point is that the government uses the same instruments for integration of all migrants while each category needs individual approach. Also he suggested that Ukraine potentially can transform from transit country to a destination point for many third countries migrants.

Alexandra Stiglmayer from European Stability Initiative suggested EU can be bothered about visa liberalization for Ukraine because of the experience of visa waiver for Western Balkans countries which led to increase in number of asylum seekers.

Vit Novotny from Martens Centre on his behalf reminded that visa liberalization has huge symbolic value for Ukraine. “It has been on agenda for 15 years”, he said.

The event is organized in the framework of Think Tank Development Initiative, supported by International Rennaisance Foundation, OSF Think Tank Fund and Sweden International Development Agenvy (SIDA).