Poroshenko Presses Trudeau for Visa-free Travel

MP Borys Wrzesnewsky and MPP Yvan Baker welcome President Poroshenko and his wife Maryna to Canada

NP-UN, National Affairs Desk.

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko pressed Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to allow visa free travel for Ukrainian citizens as the European Union has done since June 11, during his visit here, September 22 – 24.

“We see the huge positive effect of Ukraine’s decision to provide a visa-free regime to Canada back in 2005, and are ready to work with Canada towards achieving visa-free travel for Ukrainian citizens as well. I believe that tearing down barriers between our people who are so close in their aspirations is a right step at the moment,” he stated during a press conference following his meeting with Trudeau in Toronto, September 22.
Poroshenko noted this is about sharing of values and strengthening mutual understanding, and, of course, it’s about expansion of multi-cultural diversity Canada is well-known for.

“I am confident that after we implemented 144 EU criteria, Ukraine meets majority of Canada’s criteria, as well. So, we are looking for the start of a comprehensive dialogue on this extremely important issue,” he added.

Speaking later at a gala event organized by the Ukrainian Canadian Congress later that evening, Poroshenko noted that a major irritant had been removed.

“We agreed to reduce the number of visa refusals significantly. For visas to be valid for the validity of the passport. So far, for the first stage,” he added.

At 37%, the rejection rate for visas at Canada’s Embassy in Kyiv is one of the highest of all stations abroad.

The Government of Canada will be conducting a review of current visa restrictions on citizens of Ukraine in the fall, but this does not necessarily mean visa-free travel, says the Chair of the House of Commons Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration.

“We will be looking at the possibility of following the lead of the European Union in providing visa-free travel, but this is not guaranteed. Those who care about this issue should let their elected representatives know this as the more feedback MPs get on this issue from their constituents, the better informed they will be on this issue,” Etobicoke-Centre MP Borys Wrzesnewskyj told the pre-merger Ukrainian News on June 21.

Under the new EU rules, Ukrainian citizens who have biometric passports may enter all EU member states other than Ireland and the United Kingdom without a visa for up to 90 days during any 180-day period. It also applies to four Schengen Area countries that are not in the EU: Norway, Iceland, Liechtenstein, and Switzerland.

Hopefully the Canadian review will be set out some parameters and come out with some good recommendations, Wrzesnewskyj added.