The European Parliament voted to grant the right of visa-free travel to the EU countries for Ukrainian citizens. The vast majority of political forces, except for marginal pro-Russian, pro-Putin parties, has provided a strong support for us in this issue. 521 MEPs expressed firm and full support for Ukraine.
Visa-free regime will have a significant practical importance for many citizens. Almost three million Ukrainians have already received or receiving now biometric passports required for the visa-free travel. Only in 2016, Ukrainians crossed the state border with the EU countries more than 15 million times.
Of course, the Government and all authorities must persistently work for the number of Ukrainians financially capable of travelling to Europe to be increased year-by-year.
However, the decision of the European Parliament is much broader than visa-free travel or freedom of movement. It means greater pride for Ukrainian citizenship and greater attractiveness of Ukrainian passport. It is a symbol of Ukraine’s belonging to common European civilization. It is a bright marker that Ukraine is a part of united Europe, from Lisbon to Kharkiv, and we share common values. It is an evidence of strategic correctness of our European choice, success and irreversibility of our course towards integration into Europe.
And finally, today’s voting means the European Parliament’s recognition of the depth of our reforms. I remind you that our plan of actions to meet the criteria required for visa liberalization consisted of almost a hundred and fifty items. And they are all fulfilled! Such innovations as electronic declaration of wealth of those in power or creation of new anti-corruption bodies and reformation of the old ones were made possible due to the implementation of this plan.
Being Minister of Foreign Affairs I have started this struggle for visa-free regime. Frankly speaking, I couldn’t imagine how long and thorny this path would be. I cannot tell that it was an easy and simple job, but every day of almost 8 years I felt and feel my personal responsibility for success of this project.
I am sincerely grateful to the President of the European Parliament, rapporteurs of the European Parliament on the Ukrainian issue, delegation for relations with Ukraine, “Friends of Ukraine in the European Parliament” group and all European deputies for their personal efforts aimed to implement this important objective for every Ukrainian.
I am grateful to Ukrainian diplomats, people’s deputies, NGOs who have been moving this process together with me.
Low bow to glorious Ukrainian warriors who defend not only Ukraine’s territorial integrity and European choice, but also the entire system of values of the Old World in the struggle against the Russian aggressor.
I sincerely congratulate everyone on a successful vote in the European Parliament.
Now, the ball is in the court of the Council of the EU. We expect its positive verdict in the coming weeks. I am working in regular contact with leaders of European countries to make it happen as soon as possible.
Glory to united Europe!
Glory to Ukraine!