Thursday, May 11 2017 20:24 EEST
President’s address on the occasion of the decision of the Council of the EU to approve legislative initiative on the introduction of visa-free regime for Ukrainian citizens
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Fellow Ukrainians! The EU Council of Ministers has just adopted a final decision to grant us, Ukrainian citizens, the right to visa-free travel.

On May 17 in Strasbourg, in the premises of the European Parliament, respective legislative act will be solemnly signed pursuant to our agreement with our European friends. Probably, this will be one of my most important visits in three years of service at the post of President of Ukraine.

The decision will be published in the Official Journal of the Union and it will enter into force 20 days after. Approximately on June 11, 34 European countries will turn on the green light for the owners of Ukrainian biometric passports - for visa-free short-term trips.

There will be no more queues in embassies and visa centers. There will be no more exhausting rigamarole with paper collection. People will save money spent for consular fees and services of intermediaries.

However, “visa-free regime” is much more than just a simplified way to travel abroad. It is a giant step towards Europe, towards assertion of human freedom and independence of our state. We get rid of the post-Soviet past and increasingly become part of the common European civilization.

“Visa-free regime” is an evidence of strategic correctness of our European choice, irreversibility of the course of integration into Europe. This is also a recognition of positive transformations on the track of reforms: visa liberalization action plan consisted of almost 150 items that ensured real changes in many spheres.

Were those tasks simple? Of course not. Many opposed, both outside and inside. But we have passed together this long and difficult path.

We have made it!

Politicians who made a responsible decision, as in the case of electronic declaration. Civil society that supported the movement towards Europe. Our friends in the EU who opposed numerous attempts of Russian lobby to block our “visa-free regime”. And first of all, Ukrainian soldiers who defend Ukraine and the whole continent in the east. Low bow to you dear brothers in arms for that.

I am eternally grateful to all of you who helped me fulfill one of my main election promises.

Congratulations, fellow Ukrainians, on this historic decision of the Council of the European Union. This is like returning home after a long and exhausting trip… Returning to our common European home.

Appreciate your Ukrainian passport. And love Ukraine!

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