Slovakia promises us green light on the way to Europe (commentary)
"The signing of the Association Agreement will be a strong impetus for further liberalization of the visa regime. We must realize that the Schengen border will exist until Ukraine's accession to the Schengen zone, but the visa liberalization will be continuing even before that. Slovakia, as a close neighbor, will assist Ukraine in the abolition of visas in the shortest possible time" - the Consul General of the Slovak Republic Janka Burianova said on the eve of the Vilnius summit of the Eastern Partnership.
- Will the Association Agreement have effect on visa liberalization?
- It is quite natural that on the eve of the sammit in Vilnius, Ukrainian society are actively discussing this important event, which will have a crucial role for the future of Ukraine as well as, of course, the whole of Europe... The signing of the Association Agreement will be a strong impetus for further liberalization of the visa regime. We must realize that the Schengen border will exist until Ukraine's accession to the Schengen zone, but the visa liberalization will be continuing even before that. Slovakia, as a close neighbor, will assist Ukraine in the abolition of visas in the shortest possible time.
- Ukrainians are grateful to the Government of Slovakia, which last year at the end of December simplified the procedure for issuance of Schengen visas, in the words of the Deputy Prime Minister Miroslav Lajcak - for winter tourism and New Year holiday in the Tatra Mountains. And what will be the next steps in this direction?
- Slovakia, within its competence, capabilities and, most importantly, commitment to the Schengen space countries, is making steps towards visa liberalization. The Slovak Republic simplified the visa regime for citizens of Ukraine in the categories of "tourist visa", "business visa" and "visa for family members who live abroad".
In the category of "tourism" there was great interest among Ukrainians to traveling to Slovakia. Which we were very pleased about. The simplification of requirements in the category of "business visa" has a direct impact on regular meetings of businessmen and the development of bilateral trade: it is one of the important factors for further development. And the third category refers to humane approach and respect of the state towards its citizens and their relatives living abroad.
- In October you promised Transcarpathian officials to reduce queues at the Consulate General, and in mid-May you introduced the preliminary electronic registration, the problem was virtually solved...
- The introduction of electronic procedures when issuing visas allowed to significantly reduce waiting queues in front of our consulate.
- Local border traffic also significantly facilitates contacts between people living in border regions. But last year there was a stagnation on this issue, wasn't it?
- Yes, last year, due to the technical reasons we were not issuing permits for local border traffic. However, this year we have received more than six hundred applications and issued more than five hundred permits.
- At the conference on cross-border cooperation in the High Tatras, I remembered the words of the famous Slovak scientist, Ph.D. Marian Gajdos, who insists on opening of several more consulates of Slovakia in Ukraine, because for such a large territory, as Ukraine, there is clearly not enough of them.
- The Embassy of Slovakia carries out its activity on the territory of Ukraine through a network of honorary consulates, which, of course, can be expanded. Currently, there is one in Donetsk, the preparations for the opening of the honorary consulate in Odessa continue. Soon the diplomatic establishment headed by the honorary consul Oleg Adamchuk will begin working in Transcarpathian district center Velyky Berezny.
- Why there?
- The requirement is that there can not be two diplomatic missions in one city, and since in Uzhgorod there is the Consulate General, the honorary consulate will be opened near the second largest checkpoint on the Ukraine-Slovak border.
- There are three types of border crossings between the two countries: two for motor vehicles, a couple for railway transport, and one for pedestrians. Yet the queues at the border are not reduced and sometimes even increased. So there is not enough of them?
- Queues at the border is a very sensitive issue. The Schengen check has its own rules and requirements. Practice shows that the control is still necessary: there are cases of forged travel documents. In addition, customs and tax checks reveal a steady increase of transportation of undeclared goods in prohibited quantities. As for the number of checkpoints. Every town and village, located along our borders would like to have "their own" checkpoints. This obviously would facilitate their relationship. Since the establishment of a checkpoint takes a lot of money, their location and opening require careful analysis, planning, and in particular the mutual consent of both countries. And our countries are doing everything they can to help facilitate contacts, communication and mutual cooperation between the citizens of both countries.
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