News from our partners: activity of the European Stability Initiative in Ukraine and Moldova
European Stability Initiative (ESI) is well known in Europe as an institution that provides a qualitative analysis of the visa and migration issues and advocate freedom of movement.
Partnerships, establishing between “Europe without Barriers” and ESI, and organizations representing the Eastern Partnership countries, including Moldova, will strengthen the activity of our initiative towards achievement of Ukraine criteria of visa-free country with the EU relations.
Form 29 April to 2 May 2010, an ESI team visited Moldova to discuss with Moldovan officials and civil society the country’s prospects for visa-free travel with the EU. They met with Prime Minister Vlad Filat, Foreign Minister Iurie Leanca and the head of the Border Guard Service Alexei Roibu, among many other officials. ESI’s most important message to Moldovans was that visa-free travel will require far-reaching reforms, which, however, can be accomplished and should lead to the abolition of the Schengen visa requirement.
The ESI team was made up of ESI Chairperson Gerald Knaus, ESI Senior Analyst Alexandra Stiglmayer and Ivica Bocevski, former Macedonian Deputy Prime Minister who was in charge of the visa liberalisation process for Macedonia. Ivica Bocevski spoke about the activities that Macedonia undertook to qualify for visa-free travel with the EU, sharing the Western Balkans experience with Moldova.
The ESI team also had meetings with the senior officials from other ministries and EUBAM (European Union Border Assistance Mission). The team briefed an inter-institutional task force dealing with various aspects relevant for the visa issue, and talked to representatives of various think-tanks and NGOs.
With the Border Guard Service, ESI visited the border crossing point Leusani towards Romania. The ESI team also went to a customs point near Vadul-lui-Voda towards the break-away region of Transnistria.
In the framework of the "Eastern Partnership", the EU has promised its six Eastern partner countries – Moldova, Ukraine, Georgia, Armenia, Azerbaijan and Belarus – visa liberalisation. In Moldova, visa facilitation and readmission agreements, which are a precondition for a visa liberalisation process, entered into force in January 2008. In June 2010, the European Commission intends to open a visa dialogue with Moldova. As part of this dialogue, it plans to present to Moldova a visa roadmap that will set out the conditions that the country needs to meet to be granted visa-free travel with the EU.
ESI activities in Ukraine
At a visa conference in Kiev, Ukraine, ESI Senior Analyst Alexandra Stiglmayer stated that visa-free travel for Ukrainians will require hard work and reforms, which, however, are achievable so that Ukraine has a good chance to qualify for visa-free travel with the EU. She participated in the conference "Prospects of visa liberalisation by the EU for Ukraine and other Eastern European countries" organised by the Centre for Peace, Conversion and Foreign Policy of Ukraine and the Civic Initiative "Europe without Barriers" on 11 June 2010.
In addition to Alexandra, as well as Oleksandr Sushko and Iryna Sushko from the two organising NGOs, the speakers at the conference included the Ukrainian Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Pavlo Klimkin, senior officials from the Ministries of Justice and the Interior, a member of the parliament, and a representative of the European Policy Centre in Brussels.
Alexandra used the experience from the Western Balkans to stress and illustrate three points:
- Visa-free travel is a realistic and achievable goal for Ukraine;
- Visa-free travel will not be a political gift from the EU, but it will require hard work, which, however, is doable; and
- It is in the EU’s interest that Ukraine succeeds and meets the conditions for visa-free travel.
Under the EU’s Eastern Partnership, the EU has offered the six Eastern partner countries (Ukraine, Moldova, Georgia, Armenia, Azerbaijan and Belarus) visa-free travel as a long-term goal. In January 2008, Ukraine/EU visa facilitation and readmission agreements entered into force as first step towards this goal, and in October 2008 a visa dialogue between Ukraine and the Commission was launched.