Appeal of civil society activists and leaders of the Ukrainian and European civil society organisations to the European Union member states, EU institutions, Government and Parliament of Ukraine.
The fall of the Berlin Wall stimulated Europe to put many efforts in economic, cultural and political integration to break up the dividing lines. However, for Eastern European countries, and for Ukraine in particular, movement of people within Europe is getting more complicated. Enlargement of the European Union to include the Central European countries in 2004 and, consequently, the expansion of the Schengen zone in 2007 resulted in creation of new visa barriers for Ukrainian citizens. Visa differentiation became a new reality in the expanded Europe.
In May 2005, Ukraine unilaterally abolished visa requirements for EU citizens in order to enhance integration processes and to stimulate tourism and people-to-people contacts. However, this goodwill gesture has had no response. Independent monitoring of visa procedures proves systematic humiliation of Ukrainians’ dignity in Consulates and disrespect of their human rights.
Being aware of the importance of the perception of visa issues in bilateral relations between Ukraine and the European Union among the Ukrainian citizens; and taking into account the expansion of the Schengen area as of December 21, 2007, we:
- Welcome the ratification of the Agreement on the Facilitation of the Issuance of Visas between Ukraine and the European Community by the Council of the European Union; and appeal to the Ukrainian Parliament to ratify this Agreement as soon as possible.
- Call on the governments of Ukraine and EU member states to maximize their efforts to implement the new visa agreement and to secure further visa liberalization to include all citizens of Ukraine. We insist that the introduction of the addition to the Agreement (according to the envisioned mechanism in Articles 12 and 14 of the Agreement) should be one of the first steps in this direction. The addition is to provide for facilitation of visa procedures for representatives of civil society organisations, as it is foreseen in the similar agreements between the European Union and Moldova and Western Balkan countries.
- Call on EU member states to adhere to the harmonised procedures for issuing visas and to avoid introduction of national restrictions, which complicate visa procedures already envisaged for Ukrainian citizens by the Agreement.
- Call on the EU and Ukraine delegations responsible for negotiations on the new enhansed agreement between Ukraine and the EU to record an index of actions, criteria and conditions which would enable Ukraine to obtain a visa-free regime with the EU.
- Welcome the initiative of adoption of the new comprehensive European Community Visa Code which will foster transparent visa policy of EU member states. We call on the European Community to introduce a principle of non-discrimination and equal visa regime by all EU member states towards Ukraine.
- Appeal to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine to make every effort to develop active dialogue with EU member states and EU institutions to remove those elements of visa procedures which groundlessly complicate the process of issuing visas for Ukrainian citizens.
- Appeal to the Embassies and Consulates of European Union member states to establish regular consultations on visa and migration issues with participation of representatives of non-governmental organisations.
- Call on the Ukrainian Parliament and the Cabinet of Ministers to take persistent measures in order for Ukraine to meet the criteria of a visa-free travel state in the short-run; to enhance Ukrainian citizens’ awareness of the legal conditions of staying abroad; and to activate efforts for development of effective national migration and boarder management policies.
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The appeal is open for signatures by December 19, 2007. Please indicate your full name, organization you represent and your country.