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Visa Liberalization With Ukraine Gives EU 'Powerful Leverage' Over Kiev

© AFP 2021 / VASILY MAXIMOVAn EU flag flies in Independence Square in Kiev
An EU flag flies in Independence Square in Kiev - Sputnik International
The European Union is considering liberalizing the visa regime with Ukraine in the very near future, EU top diplomat Federica Mogherini said Tuesday.

EU's High representative for foreign affairs and security policy Federica Mogherini arrives for an European Union leaders summit on October 20, 2016 at the European Council, in Brussels. - Sputnik International
EU Intends to Ease Visa Regime With Ukraine in Coming Days - Mogherini
"We are supporting our Eastern partners, strengthening their economies and their institutions, their resilience and in just a few days we will announce a visa liberalization agreement with our Ukrainian friends," Mogherini told the UN Security Council.

The EU is committed to upholding the principle of territorial integrity and inviolability of borders, Mogherini claimed. She added that for this reason the bloc considers Crimea’s reunification with Russia as "illegal" and will not recognize it.

In an interview with Radio Sputnik, Russian political analyst Alexander Asafov said that the visa regime between Kiev and Brussels will be eased but this will not be a real visa-free regime.

"Even Kiev changed the description of this decision and calls it visa liberalization. The reason is that they will not have a real visa-free regime. Nevertheless, the visa regime will be liberalized, probably, in within the agreed period. Now Mogherini just wants her Ukrainian partners to calm down, saying that everything will go according to the plan," Asafov pointed out.

People take part in a rally, near the National Bank in Kiev, Ukraine, Tuesday, Nov. 15, 2016. - Sputnik International
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According to the analyst, the decision gives Brussels additional leverage over Kiev.

Asafov reminded that in March the EU suspension mechanism was introduced in the event of an uncontrollable migrant influx. The EU Council said the decision was part of an accord on visa liberation with Ukraine and Georgia.

"Why does the EU need this? They want to support their protégés in Kiev, but from a safe distance, especially taking into account the visa suspension mechanism. This is not costly. This is rather a non-binding diplomatic gesture. What is important, the EU will have leverage [over Ukraine]," he said.

According to him, this leverage over Kiev would be the risk of losing the "so long-awaited visa free regime."

"This leverage will be a 'club' in the hands of Brussels. The EU will have powerful leverage over [Ukrainian President Petro] Poroshenko, making him take particular decisions. If a visa-free regime is revoked it would be a serious reputation blow [to Kiev]," Asafov said.

He also noted that visa liberalization does not indicate  that Ukraine will soon join the European Union.

US dollar and Ukrainian hryvnia notes - Sputnik International
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"The EU now feels uncertainty over its future in the coming year. Neither in the short-run, nor in the medium term, will Brussels discuss the admission of a highly-corrupted country with a ruined economy," Asafov concluded.

In early-May, the European Parliament approved the introduction of the visa-free regime for Ukrainian citizens for short-term travels  to the EU member states.

"Under the new law, Ukrainians who hold a biometric passport will be able to enter the EU without a visa for 90 days in any 180-day period, for tourism, to visit relatives or friends, or for business purposes, but not to work," an official statement by the European Parliament read.

Visa-free entry for Ukrainians would be available to all EU countries, except for Ireland, the United Kingdom, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland.


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