22:29 GMT26 January 2021
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    The process of Ukraine’s integration with Europe was moving faster under ex-President Viktor Yanukovych than it is now, with promises of visa-free travel to the EU remaining on paper only.

    Preparatory work on visa-free travel with the EU was 95 percent ready under Yanukovych, save only for the biometric passports – a problem the post-Maidan government has yet to address, former director of information policy in the Ukrainian Foreign Ministry Oleh Voloshin said in an interview with the Kiev-based radio station "Golos Stolitsy" (The Voice of the Capital).

    “There are more than a million refugees in Ukraine now, none of whom has so far been registered as such… If they had, they would have no right to seek political asylum in Europe. Now they can and this is what the Europeans are afraid of and why they are in no hurry to open up their borders,” Voloshin added.

    The Europeans are also worried by Ukraine not really preparing for the introduction of a free trade zone with the EU.

    “They are ready to give us money but we really have no arrangements in place to put these funds to work. The government is doing nothing to safeguard the domestic producers. With an economy like ours no one will need us in Europe.”

    The free trade zone will kick in next week which means that 2016 will be a hard time for the Ukrainian economy.

    This year the country lost more than $12 billion dollars due to the loss of the Russian market.

    “If we had this money we would not have to borrow anything abroad… With the free trade zone in place, we may lose another $16 billion.”

    “The problem is that the president and his team are not looking for ways to restart the dialogue with Russia because without this we will find ourselves at a dead-end,” Oleh Voloshin said in conclusion.

    On August 17 Ukraine handed over to the European Commission its final report on its compliance with the EU terms for easing the visa regime. The EC has until December 14 to submit its recommendations for consideration by all members of the 28-nation alliance.

    Meanwhile Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko and European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said both were ready to establish a free trade zone on January 1, 2016…


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    free trade zone, visa-free travel, visa-free regime, European integration, EU integration, European Union, Europe, Ukraine
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