Congratulations to the Customs Service

KIEV, Ukraine -- Congratulations to the State Customs Service for making it easier to get in and out of Ukraine.

Back in the Soviet days, you went through customs in Kyiv basically under gunpoint. The situation eased a little with independence, but not by much. We have vivid memories of entering a “free” Ukraine by train in 1992 and being subjected to a totalitarian gamut of invasive search techniques, as smirking post-adolescents in border guard uniforms barked orders, dumped out people’s suitcases and dragged elderly men and women into the corridor to pat them down. In recent years, the border regime hasn’t been brutal, but it has been illogical, inept, inefficient, slow and probably ineffective. Getting out of Boryspil airport has been an anxiety-producing pain.

According to Customs Service chairman Volodymyr Skomarovsky, border control will now start to conform to international practices and standards, and one of the results will be less waiting at border points. Travelers will now be allowed more latitude in declaring goods at Boryspil, as part of a liberalized system that the government expects to come into effect eventually at other Ukrainian airports.

In addition, each Ukrainian customs point will now operate according to a one-window system, which means an end to the sometimes confusing business of choosing which portal – the red or the green – to pass through.

This is all excellent news, since it need not be repeated that the way people are treated at a country’s borders disproportionately determines what they think of that country. For a long time, people coming into and going out of Ukraine were subjected to bother, inefficiency, stress and sometimes contempt and corruption. As Ukraine tries to turn the corner and live up to European standards, it’s fitting that that should change. The Customs Service’s move is a very healthy step in the direction of a strengthened civil society in Ukraine.

Source: Kyiv Post